Before moving to New York City, I planned to write shorter articles for this blog and instead to post more frequently. Well… I kinda failed in doing so. My last upload has already been more than two months ago!
But don’t worry – I didn’t get lost. My problem is that my job here consumes so much of my time (have I mentioned the unpaid and unbalanced overtime yet? :/ ) that I want to make the best out of the little free time I have. And boy, have I enjoyed my time here! Whereas at the time of my last article I was in a little blues due to a lack of friends and enjoyable activities, now I can’t – and don’t – want to believe that my time here is about to come to a close. I have less than one month left and there still is sooo much more to see, do and experience in this city!
Also there is a lot I still have to figure out for the continuation of this adventure. As always, I am way behind schedule. But before talking about that, I’ll give you a brief recap of what happened:
I’ve started to regularly go to a BOARD GAME NIGHT. This probably brought the biggest change for my life here as it has brought me many great friends.
I went to the INTERNATIONAL CONTEMPORARY FURNITURE FAIR with my boss and colleague. It was fun. Could have included more free food though.
On MEMORIAL DAY, war veterans are being celebrated. And in this country that seems to be a big thing. I was happy to be invited to a true American backyard BBQ.
My colleagues and me had free donuts together at INTERNATIONAL DOUGHNUT DAY. Yummy!
The office’s restaurant project “AROQA” got opened and we had dinner there. Food and space are delicious. Finally all the stress has come to a succesful end.
I went to BOSTON with “my only friend here”. Such a beautiful city – except when you get lost and walk under a highway for half an hour straight. But I guess that counts as a unique experience!
The NYC PRIDE PARADE happened. And I watched it. By far the most entertaining parade I’ve watched here (sorry, St. Patrick’s Day Parade and Cherry Blossom Parade!). Much fun – though I think I’m not a parade-person.
I moved. Yes, once again. I live in BROOKLYN now which feels really calm, but honestly I miss Manhattan a little. At least apartment and roommate are so much better!
A friend took me to explore his home NEWPORT, Rhode Island. So American and sooo much seafood! Very lovely.
4TH OF JULY brought me 2 BBQs: The night before in the same backyard as on Memorial Day and the exact day with my office in the park. So much meat and so much fun!
My game night friends organised a speakeasy-themed MURDER MYSTERY PARTY and I caught the murderer! By blind guessing though.
I finally went to CONEY ISLAND, saw Steeplechase and Luna Park and had a Hot Dog in a Grub Tub (a cup – food tray – combination) – what a delirious city this is!
I had another recreational weekend in NEW ENGLAND including kayaking in New Hampshire.
I went on a day-long pirate-themed TREASURE HUNT in central park including solving puzzles and riddles. An awesome event put together by two of my game night friends!
I got visited by a German friend and we had a touristy NYC-WEEKEND together – It was about time for another one of these!
Stay tuned to hear soon how this trip will continue!
Thursday, April 6, 9:00 PM:
After a stressful period of long hours, work has become pretty quiet in the office since we turned in a construction set for a project earlier this week. I am sitting at home having dinner, starting to think about what to do over the weekend.
Thursday, April 6, 9:05 PM:
I receive a text message from my boss thanking me for the hard work on said project and giving me the following day off – HOORAY!
Thursday, April 6, 10:30 PM:
It is clear now what to do for the weekend. A quick research for the best weekend trips from NYC resulted in the decision to go to – where I initially planned to go a couple of weekends earlier, but couldn’t, because I had to work the weekend on mentioned project – Washington D.C. An intensive research about sights, restaurants, good architecture, hostels, and bus tickets follows.
Friday, April 7, 2:15 AM:
I finally go to bed. Hostel and bus tieckets are booked, countless locations are saved on my phone.
Friday, April 7, 9:20 AM:
A morning full of oversleeping, rushing to pack my stuff and buying breakfast at a grocery store still could not stop me from arriving at the bus stopping location (there was no actual bus stop – the ticket was so cheap, the bus didn’t even have the company’s name printed on it and just stopped in front of a bank) 10 minutes before the scheduled departure.
Friday, April 7, 9:45 AM:
The bus leaves 15min delayed. All seats are taken. The first moments of the trip were used by staring out of the windows while being navigated through the urban canyons of NYC. The rest of the trip became a mixture of sleeping and reading – alternating and sometimes simultaneously.
Friday, April 7, 2:00 PM:
Punctual arrival in DC. No bus stop either. We are simply being dropped off at the side of a road. The DC exploration shall begin!
Friday, April 7, 4:00 PM:
Already one Smithsonian and one Mies van der Rohe crossed from the list. Stopping for lunch at a burger place when I suddenly can’t find my credit card. I empty my entire backpack – nothing. First reaction: panic! Going through the last uses. Probably I have forgotten to put it back into my wallet after purchasinf hostel and bus tickets last evening. Calming down. Luckily I have a second card (with international fees though, but that pill has to be swallowed).
Friday, April 7, 5:15 PM:
Heading to the hostel I am quite disappointed by DC. I always pictured it a beatiful city, when all I’ve seen so far was typical American, characterless, postmodern architecture and car-focussed urbanism. Brutalist concrete architecture from the 60s and 70s, which is usually ill-reputed in other cities, sticks out positively here being the only buildings with character. Hopefully the main sights at the national mall will turn out being prettier, which I’ve avoided today as I want to save them for the next days with better weather.
Friday, April 7, 5:20 PM:
I pass through a typical backyard-alleyway with lots of storage rooms and garages. This is the first part of the city, I encounter, which has a character. I enjoy strolling through the maze-like network of narrow alleys and cute, small squares. To my surprise there are some hipster stores and restaurants here – they must have gotton the same feeling of the place as I have.
Friday, April 7, 5:25:
Arriving at the hostel I realize that I’ve forgotten a second, very important thing: My passport. The receptionist allows me to check in sending him a digital copy. I sit down in the common area trying to charge my phone’s dead battery when I notice: I took my charger, but I forgot the adaptor! After borrowing a charger, charging my phone and eventually finding an email with my passport attached I can finally check in.
Friday, April 7, 9:45 PM:
With relaxing, meeting new people, dinner and chatting I’m having a fun and laid-back evening in the hostel. Someone eventually pulls out Monopoly and we start playing – using coins for tokens and poker chips as houses as we are too many players. Purest hostel-life.
Saturday, April 8, 9:00 AM:
Though the Monopoly-night later turned into a bar-night and we came back home late, I still managed to get up and get ready relatively early. The complimentary breakfast turned out to be freshly made chocolate pancakes with maple sirup and the sun made it possible to chill in the hammoks and couches on the rooftop terrace. A great start for a great day!
Saturday, April 8, 4:50 PM:
Fast-Forward. A full day of sightseeing is going to an end. After seeing the cherry blossom parade (Man, America! I really expected more from your countless parades than just a handful people walking down the road sluggishly), countless monuments and famous buildings, while strolling through the national mall in bright sunshine, I feel like I have crossed enough from the list to enjoy another museum. Unfortunately I have to find out that they all close at 5 PM! At least some of them still let you enter to have a pee…
Saturday, April 8, 10:00 PM:
After relaxing back at the hostel and delicious dinner in chinatown with newly made friends, we are going out again, checking out some bars in the neigborhood of our hostel.
Sunday, April 9, 11:00 AM:
As the evening became quite long, I slept in a little.
Sunday, April 9, 1:00 PM:
My plans for this day needed to be drastically shortened as my bus is leaving at 2 PM already. There is only really time for a breakfast/ lunch together with my hostel friends. After finally arriving at the recommended restaurant, there is a wait of 40min for a table – not possible for me. So we’re ending up having cheap pizza slices, when I realize: My credit card (the other one) is gone – again! I suudenly remember that, being sceptical about the procedure in the beginning, last night I had kept my card “open” in a bar for the first time… And then I must have forgotten to check out when I left – DAMMIT! There is no time for going there and catching my bus in time! Luckily you’re never alone in a hostel: My new friend offers me to get the card for me and send it to me by post – great!
Sunday, April 9, 9:30 PM:
We arrived in NYC with a little delay and I finally got home. It was a fun weekend! Needs to be repeated soon. I check my room, expecting my credit card there – it isn’t! Panic again. Should I block the card already? No. I’ll give it one more try. Now it’s been lost for 3 days already, one more before blocking it won’t make a change.
Monday, April, 10, 9:00 PM:
On my way to work I pass by the grocery store where I had bought my breakfast on Friday morning. Thankfully, they have my card! Being so rushed, I must have forgotten it at the check out on Friday.
A couple of days later:
Also my other credit card arrives by mail. Now the DC-trip is formally closed – but it shall remain as a good memory!
Sorry that this post became way too long! I am not offended if you fell asleep during the read! Pictures will follow soon… Have a great day!
On this exact day, two months ago, I did……… nothing. Because it didn’t exist. But the two days before, I spent with an amazing – but far from complete – sightseeing stroll through the city, full of innocent excitement and positivity for the time to come. Now, two months into this adventure, I realized that even living in New York City has its ups and downs. But the fact that I am writing this article while relaxing on the grass of sunny Central Park (pen on paper, later typed) shows that overall it is a great oppurtunity for me.
Without further ado, let me report to you, what I learned in these 62 days:
The US (architectural) working culture differs a lot from the European
This might have been the biggest one of the “downs” on the list. Though experiencing this also was the reason why I started this journey in the first place. Working hours here are just insane. During the week I don’t have any free minute. I basically work from getting up to going to bed. And then, on the weekends, I am out of energy, so that apart from cleaning chores and grocery shopping I hardly achieve anything. But it’s getting better a bit now and I’m starting to adapt to this lifestyle. I will talk about this issue in greater detail in another article soon.
It is really hard to meet new people (but not impossible)
In Helsinki I was lucky to have a lot of fellow interns and colleagues with similar ages and interests like me. That’s not the case here. Which resulted in some lonely evenings. I guess many people have been in a comparable situation in a new city. But I learned that you have to get out of your comfort zone from time to time and talk to people. Starting to share NYC moments with new friends is making this experience even better!
I need to do more weekend-trips
Three weeks ago I spontaneously took a bus and travelled to Washington DC (and still didn’t manage to finish the blog article about this – sorry!). It truly is an interesting (beautiful ?!) city and it was an amazing trip! An article about it will follow – hopefully soon.
Visitors are very welcome
Like in Helsinki, my family used my internship here as an excuse to do a New York vacation. Also two friends of mine happened to have passed by here already. Sharing time with them brightened up the little free time I’ve had besides work. Also this way I was able to cross out many points from the sightseeing to-do list together with them.
Sometimes what it needs is a “Tapetenwechsel” (change of scenery)
I had booked my room here from Germany already. It is nicely located, but over my budget. Though that wasn’t the only thing bothering me about it. Over time I just felt like that isn’t the place where I want to stay for 6 months. I hesitated, but then went back to online searching and found myself a new room, to which I will move tomorrow already as a start of a new chapter. Unfortunately I can only stay there for two months, but I’m optimistic that I will find another place after that time. It’s a chance to get to know about another part of the city.
All in all I am enjoying my time here. As you can see, there are more ups than down-moments. And I will continue working on turning all the new downs into ups as well. And an open-eyed walk through a new area of this urban bag of surprises makes up for everything else!
One of the biggest ups was receiving a confirmation for the next stop of this journey. Stay tuned to read soon where that will be…
Two weeks ago today, at this exact time, I was sitting on an airplane somewhere over the Atlantic Ocean, anticipating an exciting new adventure. Now I have already dived into it entirely. On Friday my boss asked me “When did you start again?”, and after telling him he replied: “Man, it feels like 2 days ago!”. I could not agree more.
As I showed you in the pictures, I have already done a lot of sightseeing, but there is so much more left! I already feel like I don’t have enough time. But this article shall not focus on sightseeing, but on the new experiences and little things that I have noticed.
They use feet and inch!
Of course I knew that, but before starting to work here, I had never reflected on how much this would affect me. As an architect, basically all you do is typing dimensions into a CAD-program. Boy, I had a hard time on the first day, and I still have! What kind of system is this, where 5’6 and 5.5 are exactly the same? And how much is actually 1/32 ?
The New York grid is clever!
As a European I am not used to numbered streets, so I never took a closer look at New York’s system of naming streets. But after doing so, it is super easy to navigate yourself through the city without a map – brilliant! (Just sometimes when you’re deep in your thoughts, you blindly walk out of a subway station and go several blocks and maybe even do the turns you needed to do, before you realize that you started completely in the wrong direction and have to go all the way back)
US toilets are terrible!
I don’t know how to explain this without disgusting anybody. But not only that most toilets here seem to be children-sized, they’re also gross. Who’s idea was it to fill them up entirely with water? I won’t say more, just look at Bart’s and Lisa’s bathroom product race here, and imagine the rest:
Groceries are super expensive!
…or maybe they’re just cheap in Germany. I went to buy a loaf of bread, some bananas, one package of turkey slices and another one of cheese and I paid 18,50$! That’s double the German price and even more than it was in Finland. A package of “product of ham and water” with 35% added ingredients, basically the cheapest stuff they have, still costs 2$. For 2€ you can already find great “Schwarzwälder Schinken” in Germany – without added water at all.
The customer service isn’t as good as it’s praised!
With all the political and social problems they have, when there is one positive thing that Europeans have in mind about the US, then it is the great customer service. Well… during my short time here, I came across employees who were rude to me, rushed me or didn’t take me serious. When my SIM card wouldn’t activate I waited for over 20min in a hotline until I gave up without being attended at all. Of course, in other situations I have also been spilled with the US-stereotypic exagerated kindness. I would say, it is how it is everywhere: Some employees do great service, others don’t.
The weather here is crazy!
I am a person who just can’t be bothered to check the weather forecast. I simply dress for the weather of yesterday, it’ll do. Bad mistake here. New York City is definitely not the place to do that. One day we could go for lunch in a shirt, the next day I leave the house and it is SNOWING! I didn’t trust my eyes. The temperature dropped from over 15°C (that’s around “go google it yourself” in Fahrenheit) to under 0°C (“another random number that totally gives no sense at all” Fahrenheit).
This is it for today – hopefully this list of insignifant details didn’t bore anybody. I am still really enjoying my time here and I’m sure I will come back soon to report even more. Until then: Have a good one!
On Sunday evening, I have finally arrived in New York City, but I still can’t believe that I will actually be living here for half a year! It simply feels like being on vacation.
But let’s start from the beginning:
The night before leaving Germany, I didn’t get much sleep. It was the birthday of a friend of mine and I hadn’t finished packing before. So when I walked downstairs to the bus stop at 8:30 in the morning, I was excited and tired at the same time. Unfortunately the journey took longer than expected due to a snow storm in Iceland (“A snow storm in Iceland??? How does this affect a flight to New York?”, you might wonder… Well, I took a cheap flight with a budget airline from Iceland, resulting in a layover in Reykjavík. So a snow storm in Iceland in fact had a huge influence on my schedule, as it delayed every single of their flights that day), but after 19 exhausting hours of travelling, I could finally sit down on my very own comfortable bed in New York City and relax.
The next two days I still had free time, as my internship starts on March 1st. I used this time to do some sightseeing: I’ve been to the Central Park, visited the 9/11 Memorial, the Freedom Tower and the Oculus station, watched the Statue of Liberty from the Battery Park, walked over the Brooklyn Bridge, strolled over Times Square and along the High Line Park. Meanwhile I saw starchitecture from Santiago Calatrava, Zaha Hadid, Jean Nouvel, Frank Gehry, Norman Foster and Sanaa, but also so many more beautiful buildings.
So these two days I essentially did the “basic-tourist-program”, including having my camera out, snapping every single thing, and keeping my head up towards the sky(scrapers) the whole time. But from time to time I had a silly smile one my face when that one thought stroke me again, and I had to tell myself once more, what I still can’t believe: “You will be LIVING here!” (Maybe, I am over-dramatizing this, but I have always been a fan of NYC, but had never been here. So this is actually a huge thing to me.)
Today I have also passed by the office where I will be working the next couple of months and I met my colleagues and my boss. They are super-kind and I am looking forward to joining them tomorrow.
Although some minor things (like receiving the visa, finding a place to live, etc.) are still to be sorted out, I can happily announce where my journey will continue: In no other city than NEW YORK (…city)!
Whereas my first internship search was driven by two motivations – I wanted to start off in a renowned office and at the same time in a rather beautiful or interesting city in Europe – this time I had one explicit goal: I wanted to spend my North America – internship in NYC! Not only because visiting this amazing city has been on my bucket list for a very long time, but also because New York takes a leading innovational role in the American architecture scene with several world-renowned offices being located there. I am glad that it finally worked out.
Though it would have been awesome to work with one of these world-renowned firms, I am also looking forward to collaborating with Architecture Work Office for six months. They are a small studio founded in 2012, which has completed several interior projects and participates in interesting competitions. Coming from a well established firm, I am sure it will be very exciting for me to experience how a small office is working on getting their share.
I am already counting the days… See you in Big Apple!
I took this new chapter of the journey as an occasion to reorganize this blog: Now there is a NAVIGATION page, where you can sort the articles by location. Also I made the ABOUT section more understandable and added a FIND ME page.