what i have learnt so far

18 Aug
Franz, Alison, Jax and Katya strike a pose at the Dean's Reception

Franz, Alison, Jax and Katya strike a pose at the Dean's Reception

It’s 2am at the Beauty Bar in East Village, and I’m contemplating getting my nails done for $10 at the manicurist’s table next to the bar – it will include a free drink, which almost makes it impossible to resist. But the pull of the dancefloor brings me to my senses and all too soon it’s time to head off home, packed in a taxi with the Germans and Luis, home to my teensy little room and our 9th floor terrace that looks over the world.

Things I have learnt in my short, but eye-opening two weeks in New York

The 9th floor terrace - one floor above mine - offers great views of Morningside Heights and the Hudson River, and is an amazing retreat when dormroom-induced claustrophobia kicks in.

* It is impossible to keep up.

Anyone who can keep up with the intense pace of New York can not be classifed as human. It is also impossible to quanitfy the huge amount of activity that is going on in all 5 burroughs. You could live here a lifetime and never be able to attend all the cool things going on, and read all the news coming out of the city. It is awesome but very, very intimidating, and the feeling that you’re “missing out on something” never quite leaves you.

*The men are lecherous.

OK. Obviously not all the men, and definitely not the ones that walk the hallowed greens at Columbia – but definitely the ones you find on the street (“Of course Jackie! Did no one mention that? ” NO.) I am not joking when I say that not a day has gone by without some perverted man catcalling me, wolf whistling me or making some comment as I walk past such as “Oh yeah, I like that, yeah” or “Are you single? Give me your number baby…” Ugh.

Laura (Canada) and Jax survive the subway to arrive at the Crocodile Lounge in East Village!

Laura (Canada) and Jax survive the subway to arrive at the Crocodile Lounge in East Village!

* Clever people can still be gross.

Despite living on a floor with over 30 international graduates from Stanford / Cambridge / Columbia / MIT who are either researching their PhD in nuclear physics / learning their 5th language / writing a book on the characteristics of atoms unique to Mars / interning at the United Nations; I have yet to walk away from a bathroom on my floor without being repulsed by an unknown object lying on the shower floor or an identifiable hacking coming from the shower next to me. Thank God I shower blind (that is, without my contact lenses on). Ignorance is truly bliss!

* It’s not that difficult to stay healthy.

(Scrap this point if I weigh 80 kilograms in a few months time…)

Maybe it’s just because I live in Morningside Heights, but in this area, it’s really an uphill battle to gain weight (a flip-flop pun is my new term for this…) There are more organic restaurants around me than fast food takeouts, the trip from the supermarket is uphill, cafes surrounding Columbia offer pretty healthy fare if you are a smart shopper, and three parks and nearby gyms provide ample opportunity to exercise.

The madness begins with school taking it out on us - Alex at the steps of the J-School

The madness begins with school taking it out on us - Alex at the steps of the J-School

That being said, take three steps north into Harlem and you’re in fast food take out heaven. Maybe I’m just too lazy to take those three steps! In any case, two weeks in New York, a fair amount of walking and healthy eating, and I have lost the kilo’s gained from the cheese and bread filled days in Switzerland.

* The subway … is insane.

You may laugh now, but I have had enough crazy experiences on the subway to last me a life time. Plus, NO ONE told me that you couldn’t get cellphone reception underground. OK, I mean, yes, I knew that, but it’s amazing how difficult your life becomes when you have an hour long subway ride to your beat, and an hour back, and the only way to communicate to someone where you are is to get out of the subway – move through the throngs of insanely stressed out freaks – exit the underground – come upground – figure out where you are – wait for signal – phone the person – and then enter again, paying for another ticket. This truly sucks. On the positive side, you find ingenious ways to bide your time, like actually reading your textbook and actually thinking about life, all in an attempt to avoid the stare of the crazy homeless man who is begging for a few dollars to support his new religion which proclaims God to be the Gerbil in his pocket. Believe it, ‘cos it’s true.

* Central Park is beautiful.

I hope the pictures below will suffice.


One Response to “what i have learnt so far”

  1. Lisa Dowson August 22, 2008 at 6:30 pm #

    Hey Jax,
    Thanks for all the updates, I’m really loving all your insights into NYC! It makes me want to visit instead of not. Glad you’re settling in well, now you’ll just have to start a book club. 🙂

    Cheers 4now,

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