After a tiresome couple of days, flying from Brazil back to Belgium, packing up all our belongings and then flying straight to New York (not counting the many frustrations of cancelled flights and lost luggage), we finally arrived at our final destination. We had all been dreaming of this day. Driving with a taxi over towards the Manhattan skyline at sunset, arriving in our cute little Carrie Bradshaw-style apartments and navigating our way through the city as if we’d known if forever.
The reality, of course, was quite different. Don’t get me wrong, we are all extremely happy and excited to be here, but moving to New York isn’t exactly smooth sailing.
At first, there’s the struggle of juggling your suitcases. I definitely made more than one person laugh while I dragged and rolled my two giant suitcases across the East Village, while trying to keep an eye on my handbag and hand luggage. And then having to carry everything up to the 4 th floor because most buildings here don’t have an elevator. The struggle was real.
Then comes the next challenge: finding an apartment. Only a few of us had been organized enough to find a place to live before arriving in New York. The rest of us had booked hotels or were staying with friends. There was no time to settle in, we immediately started flat hunting on every possible Facebook group, agency website and roommate matchmaking site (kind of like Tinder) you could possibly think of. Then come the constant flat viewings, the unanswered messages, extortionate agency fees, getting lost in the subway and the many messages like “Can I view your flat ASAP?” and “I’m here, which floor is it?”
You have to ask yourself what’s more important: location, size or amenities. Because this is real life, so you can’t have your perfect little Carry Bradshaw apartment after all. After a good week of doing all of the above, all of us have finally found a place. Not that we’ve abandoned our nomad-lives yet. Some of us will only move in and fully settle at the start of next month, but at least we can have some peace of mind.
Thankfully, Fordham had mercy so we started off the semester with only two classes and a five-day weekend. Which naturally we spent exploring the city: Chelsea Market, The High Line, Brooklyn Bridge, Williamsburg, Little Italy, Times Square, Central Park, Chinatown, Soho, Noho… we did it all. Of course with some brunches and dinners in between, because New York is a real food heaven. I haven’t had a single bad meal here and I’m slowly but surely checking off my to-do list. Now that I still have a good excuse to not cook at “home”!
So, fellow Antwerp students, the pictures we post on our Instagram are not the whole New York story. It’s just a part of it. We’re not showing our daily struggles because even if we have them, not a single day in this city feels mediocre. Even if we live in shoe-box apartments, even when our feet hurt from getting totally lost, even if we pay 5 dollars for a simple coffee, it’s all worth it. Dear New York, we can’t wait to see what you’ve got in store for us.
An update about our Brazilian adventure will be posted soon!
– Athena De Belder