(Aka MTA Realm)
New York is without any doubt a big city, but there will be part of it that you will never see. No matter how much time you spend, no matter how deep you can go and reach in your journey, I just doubt you could see it all. And even if abroad New York is associated with Manhattan, everybody here knows that there is more than that. Much more, like four more boroughs much bigger than Manhattan. I personally think that Manhattan could fit into Rome inside of the traffic ring and if you have enough time you could walk it all in a day.
When I came here for the first time I used to walk a lot. A lot, I swear. I live next to the Lincoln Center and I an afternoon I walked down to South Ferry, acting like a tourist and taking pictures everywhere. When I came back home from very far places instead I just took the cab, and most of the time it was less than ten bucks if you travel from East Village to Upper West. Let’s say that to cross all Manhattan it’s difficult that you pay more than twenty dollars. I was taking the cab mainly for one reason: subway is damn expensive.
If you think that one Euro that you pay in Italy is too much think again. Here a single travel ticket could cost you even two and a half dollars, two twenty five if you buy two. The instrument is called the Metrocard, available everywhere and easy to refill at the booths and the automatic distributors. You can even buy a normal Metrocard and then refill it with the amount you prefer, they will take you two dollars twenty five everytime you swipe it in a subway station. That yes, it may be easy and comfortable but it really sucks your soul away.
It’s like ATM for me, with a debit card I go crazy and don’t realize how much money I spend before I go online to check it. Or phone with contracts. Basically I am not a guy that can behave properly with a credit or contract offer. So that’s why I always choose unlimited offers, in order to pay and not care anymore. There are also unlimited monthly and weekly Metrocards, but I only know that the price of the monthly is one hundred and four dollars. Not even if the card was made of gold it would be so pricy. But, but, but it still may be convenient for you.
See I take the subway or the bus if there is good weather twice a day for five days a week to go work. I also go out on the weekend, let’s say twice a day on Saturday and Sunday. And let’s add Friday unpredictable adventures (two trips). Usually we go out on Wednesday to Empire, so another trip. And I play soccer on Sunday, add two. This makes like twenty trips a week. Doing the math would be around fifty dollars a week; around two hundred a month. In this case, if you have a similar situation you should buy a Metrocard.
Let’s come back for a second to Manhattan subway map: I think that if you spend at least a week in Manhattan you could easily get used to the system, and learn what is enough for you to come back home from almost every zone. Manhattan is pretty damn easy, trust me I am not Columbus or Magellan. Almost all the lines in New York run in vertical on the peninsula, the one, two three (Red) and the four, five, six (Green). Then we have the diagonal ones, which are the A, C, E, on the west, the N, Q, R in the center and the M, F, B, D on the east side (Blue, Yellow and Orange). They run across Broadway or Seventh Avenue, exiting Manhattan on the right side to Brooklyn and Queens. Then in the end we have the horizontal lines, which are the L, the S and the Seven line. If you want to go to Brooklyn you can also use the J and the Z, and the legend says that these two lines were made to please king Jay-Z, but I don’t know much about this. And in the end the G to go around Brooklyn and Queens. Piece of cake.
Trust me, these are tons of words and letters, but you will learn them quickly, and use them even if you are drunk. Ah there is also a Trambus that flights in the sky above East River to Raccoon City and the ferries to the islands (I recommend to take the South Ferry to Staten Island just for the view, it’s beautiful and it last half an hour.
And I forgot to say that most of the trains run 24/7, a dream for who like me lives in Rome and has two lines, which most of the time are so awful you prefer to take a Roman chariot and use horses to go around the city. And safe, I got surprised that nobody killed me even coming back home drunk from Queens at four in the morning. Wonderful.
(Travelling like a boss)
(Aka You just got Rickroll’d)
The main variable here that influences a wide range of subjects such as the technological gadget world, the groceries and the work is basically the integration of the human being with the World Wide Web. As I explained before in my posts you can technically do everything on the internet, and I am one of those that except meeting girls and play soccer loves to use internet for anything. Sometimes people do even those two things on the internet, but let’s say it’s not my style.
See in Italy there is no chance to use such a wide range of services, basically because in some areas of Italy we still have the dial up connection, and in other areas we don’t have even that one. And that’s just one of the problems. Most of all we are not mentally used to think about the the internet when we need something, we don’t have big stores and big chains of shops that offer products delivery. Shipping is expensive, you can only buy things on eBay, that is the biggest source of products for the average Italian, that is really, really scared about the idea to insert his credit card number on the internet.
Like in case they clone the card you will be immediately poor and alone, instantly after inserting the verification code. People in Italy buy just one, simple prepaid card from the same selle, the Poste (which is basically the US Postal Service here) because the voice of a simple, free and easy credit card spread among all Italy. Think about a country all with the same card. Why? Because they are afraid of everything, you always wait for the scam in Italy and the internet is an evil machine made to such your money and your social life. In fact it takes your social life, but if you are wise you can keep the money.
Here the things are different, and I will suggest you some internet sites you should visit that may seem basic for an American, but may result in something interesting for a future intern in New York, if you are reading this to obtain some information (or maybe they’ll make a book out of this, or a movie. In that case I would like Timothy Olyphant to play my role, he’s funny and looks alike me in some situations).
First of all the masterpiece, King Amazon: you can find everything, and I really mean everything, from food to clothing to gardening to sex toys. Everything. It is a search engine on recommended website that affiliates to Amazon in order to let it take the orders for them and manage them taking a commission on the order money. I recommend it for clothing, gadgets and technology stuff, be sure that all the items you buy are included in the Super Saving shipment because otherwise it would be something like five dollars for seller (you buy three objects from three shops you will have to pay three shipping fees). And this is the worst part, they send you tons of shipments even if you want them to reduce them to as few as possible.
Another internet site that will ease you things is FreshDirect. There are advertisements everywhere in Manhattan trains, I tried it and it works, they are fast, friendly and they deliver exactly in a two hours spot you choose. The delivery boy was so kind not to complain for the four floors of stairs to my apartment and was so kind I gave him 5 bucks. They told me to try Peapot too for food, but I think that this is the best site I used and I will continue like this.
Then I suggest you to subscribe to Netflix if you have a good internet connection and a strong Wifi. The site will permit you to stream contents from the internet right on your pc, Playstation, Xbox and similar, the quality is very good and the programs are decent. A service like this for example for me is necessary after the fall of the God Megavideo, which by the way I paid 30 Euros to in order to subscribe to the site on January.
If you need business cards (they are basically useful to spread them around to girls) you can buy the at Vistaprint, they are fast, cheap and they have a wonderful customer support: the post offices couldn’t find my shipment after two days and the customer support offered me for free a new shipment and if the post offices could find my business cards I could have kept them.
Now I can’t remember any other internet site, if I will in a future I will rickroll you again and suggest something else to visit. And by the way I always end up into Youtube videos that rickrolls you and hope that you rage. Too bad I love that song.
(Check out Brian Griffin on Family Guy version of the song, it’s awesome)
(Aka Things I love)
I never told you how I survived the impact with the paper cups where they pour the dirty water the US people call coffee. I didn’t. As most of the Italian I am pretty picky about the quality of my coffee, the mystical preparation you can see me doing in the morning is some kind of ritual, it helps me start in the right way the day. I brought my own moka machine with me in the US, with my own coffee and every morning I use it over and over again. I bought the moka machine when I started the college, in the far 2006, and because I was moving on my own in the big Rome to become somebody.
Every single day, every single exam I used the same coffee machine, one, two, five times a day, to prepare coffee for everyone came in my house. And that’s not all; I brought my moka with me during holiday, every summer from 2007. And if you think I am crazy enough I can tell you I brought my moka with me during my Erasmus, in the Netherlands. And now I am here, with my (not anymore) shiny moka and my jar of precious coffee trying to survive to the mocaccino and frappuccino and latte venti. Actually the moka has tons of burned parts, the handle is melted and the inside is full of mold and dark spots where some kind of extraterrestrial form of life lives. According to Italian legends this is what makes your coffee great, the personal taste you give your own moka. And never change any broken part, it will lose the magic.
Anyway I am currently running out of my coffee so I had to take a tough decision: I saved some of my coffee for me in order to keep it for special occasions. I imagine myself using the moka as the winners of Formula 1 use champagne bottle to exult after the grand prix. It is hidden in a closet, away from the dangerous eyes of everyone. My treasure…
I got used to the coffee, like the one you drink in the streets, and I am finding every day a new place to try it around the city. There is a place next to my office that has a good coffee, and even funny employees I like. It’s called Gregory’s Coffee, it’s pretty famous in New York and there are some of the around. Try the Macchiato, it’s very good and not as long as the American typical coffee. And if I am telling you this you should trust me.
The second thing I am discussing today (I just stuck in this by the name of the song I chose today) is TV. I don’t like very much Italian TV, and not because of all the girls we have that could never bore a man, but because of the average quality of the programs compared to what I like: Americans are most of all spectacular in whatever they do, from sports to talk shows, and comedy shows and sit-coms. I do love these four categories and I think that I am starting to appreciate the quality of the channels in American cable TV. It was inside of my apartment contract, so I am happy of this. Here they have also Netflix, a service that permits you to stream contents from the internet, and I mean movies, series and cartoons. My wifi sucks so I won’t subscribe to any service like this, but I will tell you more later on about this. Other than this, next time I will tell you about what you can find on the internet here, and believe me, this is the land of opportunities for delivery food and stuff like that.
(That’s a cappuccino, the most imitated roman coffee all around the world)
(Aka The world outside my house)
Manhattan is without any doubt the most popular borough in New York, so famous that most of the people I know in Italy think it actually is New York. Basically few people know that New York has officially five boroughs, and I can tell you that each one of them is a different city with its characteristics and peculiarities. Sometimes they even have cities in the cities. Citiesception.
I live in one of the best borough of Manhattan, not because I am rich, and I am not, but because I found through friends of friends of friends a nice studio that I pay a reasonable price and I like. I’ll tell you later on how my apartment looks alike, but I can give you a spoiler about it telling you that is one of the cutest shoebox in New York. My borough is calm, relaxed and full of old people that carry around dogs and dogs which carry around old people. I love it, and it’s close to one of my favourite rooftops so even better.
Just close to my borough there is Midtown, the part of the city I know better, the one with Times Square and full of skyscraper to give you an idea. I mean, there are skyscrapers almost everywhere but this part is the business area, together with financial district, that you imagine when you think about New York. I know this area because even I work here and some of my favourite places are here, from bars to restaurants, and is the easiest one to walk in and visit because of the many subways and bus lines.
I will have to visit more Manhattan, I am still a noob of the city as I guess you could spend a life here and still haven’t seen all the places this borough has to offer. Like for example I still have to find my favourite bar, which I consider very important. Actually Jimmy’s Corner in Midtown is a cheap, friendly bar next to Times Square, I recommend it if you don’t want to see tourists asking for tea and you want to breathe New York air. If you like 50’s atmosphere I instead recommend Bill’s Gay Nineties, there is an old man that looks totally like Tony Bennet singing new and old songs with 50s style and it’s wonderful.
For what concern the south part of the Manhattan peninsula I have been in tons of places but I could name a few of them as most of the time we just enter in random bars and have a couple of beer without caring too much about the name or the place. It’s clear that around Washington Square there is a huge amount of bars and places where young students go to forget the pain of a deep study and to celebrate the fact that there are almost no hipsters in this area. They focus on Williamsburg, in Brooklyn, which I will describe later.
East Village, Greenwich Village and West Village are all nice areas, alive, vibrant and full of people. This makes them noisy and even stressing during the week but represent a good alternative at night, especially during weekends where you could have luck with girls in some bars and small drinking holes with small doors. A restaurant are awesome too, one in particular is fascinating and reminds me of my little town in Italy, not Rome but Civita, and is run by a funny and qualified Italian, Mr. Giovanni Bartocci in Via della Pace Restaurant. Sadly I had few occasions to come back there but I will as soon as possible, I will continue my quest around the city in order to complete my borough travel guide and in the mean time I will come back to Mr. Bartocci, who is facing like me a bad moment with his soccer team but doesn’t stop supporting it.
If you go even lower in the city you will get to Soho, Canal Street and all Downtown, which I will describe in another occasion as I am running out of space in this post. And I have to talk about Brooklyn, Queens, Bronx, Staten Island and the small islands around New York. Or in order to speed things up I can just post the torrent file of my Lonely Planet if you prefer.
(Via della Pace, true faliscan restaurant)
(Aka every day is funday)
In my personal opinion New York City is the mecca of any kind of activity that can please the life of a student or of an intern from alla round the world. Every city has its own peculiarities, but I do think that New York most of all is some kind of melting pot of after work leisure times and offers a wide range of things you can do, see, drink or appreciate in almost all of its borough. I live in Manhattan and I do prefer in my opinion to stay in my borough as I do love not to need 40 stops of metro to come back home.
Not only in Manhattan you could find the fun you are looking for; Brooklyn is without any doubt one of the most vital places you could experience hipster life and post-midnight fun, and Queens is my favorite place if we talk about house parties (not parties with house music but party into the house). Anyway Manhattan still holds the top spot in my preferences as you could find literally anything you are looking for and you prefer. Anyone has different ways to have fun, but I will just describe my experiences in this sense, so I will not talk about sordid habits of the underground population as, as I have said before, I consider myself as an average guy with average passions. No drugs and hoes then.
I am not really fond of discos and clubbing, I mean I spent most of my life going to discos in Italy and going out on Saturday night just to close myself again into stinky and sticky dark rooms with repetitive music and strobe lights, which is pretty much like being into Pacman, but I never found a passion in it, and I sincerely admit that If I have to choose among going to discos and spend the evening getting drunk and telling awesome stories and funny facts (yesterday it was my funny facts day) in a pub with my friends I will prefer the latter one without thinking twice.
But I am just a guy my personal preference and I will tell you the other things I like. For example, I like parties held in houses, whatever there is or not alcohol. I’m joking, we always bring beer. Most of them are held in Queens as most of the intern I know live there, and I have to say that even if it’s hard to reach it still can give you some satisfactions because houses are bigger, you can make more noise and the more people the merrier. Here in Manhattan one thing I hate is that I have to remove my shoes every time I get into someone’s house (both because it’s a tradition in some places in Europe, not in Italy thou, and in order to make less noise for the people who lives downstairs).
This time I don’t have specific places to recommend, most of all because when I go there I am usually inebriated by the god’s nectar so I don’t remember the names. Most of the places in Greenwich are nice, and try the Mc Fadden next to UN headquarter for Tuesday and Friday happy hours, very convenient. Also if you go to Brooklyn, Union Pool is famous and full of people. Avoid the Fat Cat, it’s full of hipsters and strange people, booze is expensive (5 dollars and up for a PBR) and too crowdy on Saturday. And in the end trust me, organize a party on a rooftop, yesterday I was at some friends house with some friends and I also had the occasion to meet some nice girls, but I will tell more in another story. Stay tuned guys, there are some voices in the air that want me to be recording a video to describe the Microwave Accident. Gorgeous.
(what the hell is this beer?)
(Aka Why work when you can beer pong?)
The first week of work passed quietly but I still I had a question in my mind: what I am going to do next? It’s early I know, but I just couldn’t relax thinking about this massive argument. I didn’t explain to you why I chose this internship, even if it’s really different from what I studied in university. I am working in Human Resources Management, although I studied Finance. I realize it’s not like studying neuroscience and working on database, as a dear friend of mine from Canada working next to me here.
In autumn I had to make a choice between working and studying, and I can tell you that it has been a very important argument in my family, many discussions occurred in my place in Italy and we still have discussions though Skype. I though that I am 24 and with a Bachelor and Master’s Degree in Economics and Business, so perfectly in what we call in Italy “the time”. I still was missing something inside of me. Something not related to educational goals or working ones. Before graduating I worked for 5 months in US Embassy in Rome and I came close to a culture I didn’t know very much before that occasion.
That experience, combined with the Erasmus, helped me to understand that my place was the world, not only a city; of course I am not talking about becoming a hippy, but trying to challenge myself moving to another country in order to understand their culture and appreciated the similarities and the differences. USA were my perfect place, a melting pot of cultures all squeezed in a working suitable environment. And if you think that this can be the land of opportunity you may be right from a certain point of view. I am not saying that you are going to navigate in a sea of money as soon as you get here, but if you have the patience to work and the skills to actively do something well, nobody will shut the door in your face before you show what you can do. You have a chance.
In December I prepared application to two universities, one in Boston and one in New York, the first is a private new business school that will permit you to shift among their campus around the world and the second one is a super classic here in New York, world recognized and accredited. Before the first week of work I had the answer of the first university, positive. And a week to decide: should I choose the less known university, crazily expensive with the around the world program, or wait until half March decision of the NY one? Later on I received even the news that their campus in Boston was full so I had to accept San Francisco and a scholarship instead of Boston. I mean, I bet that San Francisco is a wonderful city, but it would be change my life again, moving to another reality and making new friends. Again.
Do I feel brave enough? Yes. Do I want to? No. I feel this city as my city now; I don’t want to change everything again. And San Francisco is on the other side of the world, 12 flying hours from my sweet Italy. This means nothing, but it’s just to give you an idea on how far I will have to move. I spent a week thinking and fighting with my parents about this and in the end I refused the offer. I don’t even know if I have to accept NY University offer if it would be positive. I am in a limbo, I even came up with the idea of doing a summer school in another well known NY University, the best one according to rankings, and then come back to Italy as a new person, with medals and certificates. I still don’t know what I’ll be doing, the only thing I am sure is that I am going to stay here for a long time and I will have to defend the recent title me and the Swedish H. conquered in a party in Brooklyn. Because the king has to take tough decisions for his realm, but a king is always a king. And it’s good to be the king.
(Who knows which university I am talking about?)