8 Things I Learned Traveling to New York City Alone

The beginning of October this year was my very first time to visit New York. I’m 26, and I can’t believe I waited this long! Before I went, I did ask my friends to go with me, but they came out with lame excuses dealing with finances, jobs and time constraints. Yes, these are legitimate excuses, but I am not letting that be the reason why I am missing out on my chance to do what I want to do. For several instances in the past, I neglected traveling because my friends couldn’t. The fact that you’re friends and family can’t travel with you should never be a reason why you can’t. So, I booked a ticket a month in advance, and New York, here I go! This was an incredible learning experience. My short visit to the city has gotten me hooked. It’s an addicting atmosphere, especially if you’re young. I want to visit again! Below are 8 things I learned traveling here:

  1. This will now be part of my keepsakes
    This will now be part of my keepsakes

    Purchase a MetroCard
    Before you do anything else, purchase a MetroCard. It doesn’t matter how you got to the city — purchase a MetroCard! If you flew in, go to Hudson News, and purchase one before you ever step out the airport building. This will be your lifeline to commute throughout the jungle. You have the option to walk, if you wish, but as a tourist visiting the city for the first time, your best bet is to take public transportation. Plus, the subway is one of the many genuine New York experiences you can have. Relish it…even though it’s dirty.

  2. Always have your phone fully charged, and carry your charger
    Unless you have a device that maintains the life of your phone, you got to be prepared to hunt down places to charge your phone. I went to the banks and Starbucks to do just that. I can’t tell you how many times I had to hunt down a Starbucks just to plug my phone in. There’s supposedly a Starbucks at every corner, but knowing how bad I am with reading Google maps on my phone, I found it pretty hard to find one. I was using up the life of my phone while I was finding a place to save it. If ever you need to find a place to charge your phone, be wary that every single Starbucks I’ve entered was packed. PACKED! There were a few times I luckily found a place to plug my phone in, but while I was waiting for my phone to charge up, I was missing out. But I did take advantage of people-watching.

    We are like rats infesting the city.
    We are like rats infesting the city.
  3. You’ll be reading the Subway map — a lot
    Familiarize yourself with it. I was probably one of the few who obviously looked like a tourist holding a big subway map over her face in the train. At first, the map looks like a jumbled mess full of colored lines and dots, but after being lost for 5 days, I finally mastered (sort of), how the subway system works. Coming from me, getting lost wasn’t so bad because I was still excited to be in the best city of the world. So, if you find yourself lost, don’t fret. Getting lost is a great learning experience. On my last day in the city, I easily dodged through neighborhood to neighborhood and made it on time to the airport with no hassle. I feel like a real city girl already!
  4. Avoid scammers
    Where do I begin with this? There will be a lot of sketchy businesses you come across, let alone scammers. Just be wary of where your money goes. I wrote a review (under Renee C.) for this one sketchy business that lurks around popular areas, such as Times Square, Grand Central, or Central Park. If ever your money goes to a single person, at least use your credit card, so you can dispute payment and get a replacement card.

    Corner of Avenue of Americas and 42nd Street
    Corner of Avenue of Americas and 42nd Street
  5. Take a lot of photos, but don’t let that take away from your organic experience
    Because it was the first time I was ever in NYC with a limited time span, I really wanted to take a lot of photos everywhere I went, but at the same time, I wanted to relish the present moment in the city. Nothing can replace seeing the city with your own eyes. I kind of contemplated if I should just step back and refrain from taking too many photos. I just saved the photo-snapping behavior for a 2nd visit, AFTER I experienced the city with my own eyes. The photos you see of skyscrapers does not capture what it really looks like with your own eyes. I kind of wish it did, but your eyes are a wonderful thing. The sights, the sounds…sometimes the smell — you can’t miss out on the present moment.
  6. Don’t be afraid to ask for directions
    Everyone primed me into thinking that New Yorkers are mean. I just think that they’re just solely focused on going from point A to point B. Maybe I’m speaking too soon, but I want to keep my perspective of New Yorkers as being helpful and “not that mean”. They usually just don’t have time to engage in small talk. When it came time for me to ask for directions, I was incredibly surprised at how helpful people were. They were so concise. They took their time to help me, although everything sounded like gibberish. As a solo traveler visiting the big city, the only things I had to rely on were the maps or another human being.
  7. Cab fare is not that expensive
    I was staying at a hostel in Brooklyn (Williamsburg neighborhood), and I woke up at 4:30AM one morning to go to the TODAY Show over in Rockefeller Center. I was instructed to take the M Train from there to my destination, but realized it doesn’t operate until 5:30AM. Seriously?! I did not wake up this early for nothing. Also, I didn’t really have full knowledge of how the subway system works, so my best bet was to take a cab. I could not risk being a few minutes later than I had planned. I told myself several times about being on the TODAY Show on that specific day to be in the audience and meet Al Roker. Taking a cab was so worth it. Fare was only $25, and $30 with tip. It’s not so bad, really.

    I wonder how much the average lost tourist walks in NYC
    I wonder how much the average lost tourist walks in NYC in one day
  8. You’ll be doing more walking than you ever had in your life
    Seriously. I got lost so much, that it accounted for me walking over 23K steps, 10 miles, and 32 floors — look at screen shot. I honestly did not mind at all because while I was lost, I was making use of that time sightseeing and immersing myself into a different world. What’s even crazy, at the end of the day, when I was awake for over 24 hours, I wasn’t even tired. It’s the energy of New York! I love it so much. That’s why I want to come back.
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First New York City Experience

I planned a solo trip to visit New York, NY from September 30th thru October 4th, 2015. It was my very first time visiting the city and have always wanted to go most of my life. None of my friends and family could join, either because of money or scheduling conflicts, but I didn’t let that stop me. New York was the place on my to-do list, regardless of anything. My trip was incredibly short, but an unforgettable learning experience. Everything I was told about the city was on par of my expectations, maybe even better.

The energy is so overwhelming! I almost couldn’t contain all the things that were going on all at once. Every street corner you turn, it’s another world. My first day roaming the city, it seemed like I had a permanent smile stuck on my face. I never in my life experienced having to contain my enthusiasm. Even when I got lost, I was still smiling. I decided to be positive and relish the moment to look up at the skyscrapers and all the activities surrounding me.  In a big city like this, you are your own individual. It’s a hustle and bustle city. It’s go-go-go. When you are in New York, you don’t fret the small things. No wonder people who live here tend to be successful.

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Photobomb by cameraman made it even better

Long before I planned my visit, I actually made it a goal to be on the TODAY Show on NBC, meet Al Roker, and have a photo with him. Waking up at 4:30AM my first day, taking a taxicab from Brooklyn and getting in line at 5AM is so worth it. I didn’t think I’d actually have a chance to do all 3, but I lucked out! If you want to meet the anchors of the TODAY Show, then you gotta wake up early! This was actually the highlight of my visit.

I spent the last day of my trip visiting Chinatown and headed towards Bryant Park, and sadly headed off to Laguardia Airport as my final destination. I’m amazed at how I easily picked up on how the subway system works because I navigated through towns and actually knew where I was going on my last day. My first ever NYC trip was the most I’ve learned in such a short time span. I would definitely love to go back – this time longer.

Below is a raw video I shot at Bryant Park, and it’s a little south of Central Park. I didn’t want to make a fancy New York City tourist video with crazy video edits and background music. If I ever want to show to people what NYC is like, then I should show snippets of the city and the people in it. I honestly had a hard time as a potential tourist to find videos that showed New York, as it really is. Enjoy!

Losing a Blog Audience

It’s one of the worst feelings you could ever face on the Internet.

I started this blog from the ground up last summer 2014. It was so difficult getting noticed and gaining visitors, as I resisted the urge to spam. I contributed to multiple websites and blogged regularly. I was on a roll…really, I was satisfied with the number of likes and/or comments I would receive on each post, even though it wasn’t that much. People were actually reading my posts and engaged in the material. It was amazing!

Then 2 things happened to me: The worst 9-5 job and a sociopathic relationship. These have hindered my ability to see the real world. I was naive and didn’t think about my passions in the long run. Lesson to learn: Don’t let ANYone or ANYthing get in the way of achieving what it is you want. EVER.

Blogging was like therapy. I could share my ideas and experiences freely. The only person limiting me from self-expression is myself. Now after I have hid myself in the shadows for 9+ months, I have become unknown. People forgot about me. It’s like I have to rebuild what I demolished.

If anyone is out there, I am still alive. I will make it imperative to maintain what it is I started.

By the way, I’m afraid my writing skills went downhill.

Considering Law School

There hLaptop in classic libraryave been a lot of people who told me to consider going to law school. I believe it may be due to my demeanor, analytical thinking and relentless need to resolve problems. Maybe that’s why. I never pictured myself as an attorney growing up, but after putting much thought into it, it doesn’t seem like a bad idea. There’s one major problem: Law School is becoming more of a financial investment rather than professional. I don’t have $150K lying around my house, so this decision shouldn’t be taken lightly.

I don’t know if deciding to apply for law school is a side effect of my quarter-life crisis (I’m 25 now) or what I honestly want to pursue, but I always wind up to the same reasoning:

A law degree only takes 3 years to obtain. Amid the financial constraints, it is a great investment considering the prestige the degree has. It’s not just the degree itself that’s valuable — it’s the fundamental skills that is required to achieve it: critical thinking, analytical, reading, writing, communication, among others. All those skills are vital, whether it’s in the legal industry or not. A law degree is versatile. Even if an employer isn’t looking specifically for someone with a law background, it still let’s the candidate to stand out. Statistics don’t tell the whole story. A law degree says everything. Regardless of the outcome of what a law degree will provide, at least it can serve as an intrinsic reward letting the recipient know they have made a significant accomplishment not everyone can achieve.

As ludicrous as this may sound, I want to go to law school, but I don’t necessarily want to practice. Like I said above, it’s the skills I’m attracted to. Although there are more feasible methods to acquire those skills, I want to undergo the discipline and the painstaking journey in the controlled environment law school provides. I believe it’s the best way to learn.

There’s unlimited things I want to do in my life. I still want to pursue a writing career, but I have to keep reminding myself that I’m still young (according to older people, obviously), and that I should not overthink the logistics of where I’ll be in the x amount of years to come. I recently got hired to work full time at a firm relevant to the legal industry, so I will utilize this experience to grow professionally and personally, as well.

 

Photo source: USLegal.com

Surgery Hell

Over these past few weeks my dream of becoming a writer/journalist has fallen into a sudden halt. Don’t worry! This is just a phase! Mentally and physically, my life has been moving in slow motion out of my control. Towards the end of September of this year, I had foot surgery — a failed foot surgery. Since then, I have been anxiously seeking out second opinions, contacting my insurance company, and considering a lawsuit. It has been about a month since the operation and I can’t recall making a significant accomplishment. There’s only so much one can do with a swollen foot, especially when it’s swollen for the wrong reasons. What used to take me less than a minute, now takes me at least five. Foot surgery is hell.

I have been feeling very turbulent – depressed to be exact. I wrote a poem (because that’s what I do when I’m emotional) describing my mixed up feelings about how I should manage my life. I just recently discovered that depression is a common side effect post-surgery, despite me having more than ten. I used to think the depression is caused by weaning off the pain killers. Either way, I concluded I’m depressed for 3 reasons: surgeon fucked up my feet, post-surgery side effect, and no more pain killers (which really made the world seem perfect amid chaos). Well, there are actually more factors involved than what’s stated. This situation causes me to be vulnerable, which adversely affects my executive functioning, which also affects my decision making. It’s a slippery slope I’m trying to get myself out of.

I don’t know what I want to do with my life anymore. I still want to move to NYC and pursue a writing career — my drive and positive attitude has just gone away. It’s my fault for not adequately planning ahead. I was supposed to take a mini vacation to New York City around this time, but instead, I’m hustling around figuring out how to pay my medical bills and finding a second job to make up for my leave of absence. Spending money while not making any is like constantly screaming “Mercy!” when no one can hear — almost reminds me of my financial issues at 16 years old. Maybe a deteriorating bank account is what’s causing the feeling. No money = depression, low drive, hopelessness, the “losing interest in things once enjoyed”?

 

A not-so-glamorous photo of the day:

Photo on 10-25-14 at 10.34 PM
Forcing a smile. Yes, yes I got it under control!

This too shall pass. I’ll get over it.

I hope.

Turbulence

By Renee Lynn

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Teardrops dropping
My face flushed
Heart is racing
Mind is rushed

Sun was shining
Yesterday
Can’t stop smiling
Any day

Dark clouds forming
Oh, what now?
Am I dreaming?
Wake me up!

On the bed
Paralyzed
I surrender
I give up

Clouds then change
From dark to white
Sun is bright
It feels right

Can’t stop smiling
Again, but how?
It’s the weather
Behind my brow

Raindrops falling
Like my tears
Air is humid
Time to fear

Let it stop!
My relentless mind
I want to fall
But I don’t know how