A Beginner’s Guide to Surviving New York City (Without Looking Like a Complete Dumbass)
To be young and in New York City is an experience unlike any other. The lights, the music, the architecture, and a host of other magnificent sights and sounds make NYC the greatest city on Earth (or, at least, America). There is something for everybody and, as the old saying goes, “if you can make it there, you can make it anywhere.” Unfortunately, a lot of us can’t make it. Those who don’t actually live in the city can find themselves lost, literally and figuratively. There’s more to the place than Times Square, Broadway, and pizza, and if you really want to cut to the core of the Big Apple, without looking like a dumbass tourist, it’s important to plan ahead. So, stick with us kid, and let us guide you through surviving New York City.
Cover Photo: itsskin (Getty Images)
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Prepare Yourself Mentally, Physically, and Fiscally
New York City is a lot to take in. This is especially true for those who suffer with anxiety. So many people in a tight space requires many deep breaths, clenched fists, and a lot of centering of one’s self. And those are just the mental aspects. You should also wear comfortable shoes, because you’ll be walking a lot. Most importantly, make sure you have enough money in your account, cause NYC is expensive. Just don’t carry a lot of cash. You probably won’t get mugged, but you never can be too sure. Keep your wallet in your front pocket.
Learn How to Navigate Public Transit
Unless you want to spend an arm and a leg on taxis, Ubers, and parking (oh God, the parking), you'll need to learn how to utilize the subway system. Yes, it’s new and different and scary but it’s also cheap. And it can take you anywhere in the city, from Brooklyn to the Bronx and beyond. Also, don’t be an asshole. You don’t need to avoid eye contact with everybody. New Yorkers aren’t big, scary murderers-in-waiting. Mostly, they’re just people who want to go home and you’re getting in their way by trying to figure out which train to take.
Don’t Ask for Directions
While it may be perfectly acceptable to stop at any gas station in the Midwest to ask for directions, doing so on the streets of New York City will only make you look weak. And, chances are, the person you ask will probably give you wrong directions anyway, just because it’s funny. No, don’t ask for directions. A real man makes his own way, or something like that. If all else fails, you can always consult your phone.
If You Have to Use Google Maps, Do So Discreetly
Nothing makes you look like more of a tourist than standing in the middle of Times Square holding your phone up and trying to find which way is north. Yes, Google Maps is a wonderful tool, but if you want to avoid looking clueless, please use the app discreetly. Let the voice guide you more than the actual map. Throw in some earbuds and nobody will know the difference. But if you’re walking around with your head down, following the map step-by-step, you will inevitably walk into somebody. And then he or she will shame you. And then you will cry.
Don’t Make Small Talk or Eye Contact
New Yorkers aren’t mean people, they’re just efficient. You don’t need to smile, wave, make eye contact or try to talk to them in order to get them to like you. They don’t need to like you. What they need to do is get to wherever they’re going, and your goofy, smiling face is just slowing them down. If you want to make friends, save it for your trip to Wyoming. They’re always down for a handshake and your life story.
Homeless Doesn’t Mean Less Than
Yes, there are a lot of homeless people in New York City. And yes, some of them may approach you for a dollar or two. But you’re allowed to say "no" without being degrading. Kindness goes a long way, and while you might not have a dollar to spare, a smile could mean just as much. Not literally. Smiles don’t buy slices of pizza. But you get it. Don’t be a dick. That homeless person trying to sleep on the sidewalk isn’t somebody to be mocked. They’re just trying to survive.
Go to Ray’s Pizza
Just do it.
Take a Deep Breath and Take It All In
We know, these are a lot of rules. Some of them don’t seem fair. But you just need to trust us, they’re for your own good. Don’t let our rules ruin your trip, though. After all is said and done, you’re still standing in the middle of the greatest city in America. The lights are dazzling, the sounds are mesmerizing, and the entire experience could be a memory that lasts a lifetime. Don’t be afraid to take a deep breath and take in the view.
Just make sure you’re not in the way.