For those of you who have read my blog, have spoken to me recently, or just generally know anything about me, I am pretty sure you would gather the fact that I just spent the four most amazing months of my life in Paris, the City of Lights, of baguettes, of cheese, and of endless discoverable rues. I am obsessed with my time abroad and I find myself speechless and babbling about it, depending on the day, whenever I am asked the timeless question from people I haven't seen in a while: "So, how was Paris?"
But now, I find myself in another metropole, one that might be even more coveted than Paris (although, that could be debated). This summer, I spend roughly between 50-60 hours of my week working and commuting to New York City. It might sound rough, going two hours a day to and from this gargantuan concrete jungle (isn't this term becoming cliche?), but I get the chills up my spine every time the city skyline peeks out from my window on the LIRR train.
While abroad, whenever a "foreigner" (I hate using this term because, at that point, I was the foreigner, wasn't I?) asked me where I came from, I would just say New York. Why split hairs? It's not like they would understand Long Island geographically anyways. And as for the few that did, they connected it with the Hamptons. So, to save myself an explanation and wasted breath, I would put my hometown under the geographical blanket of New York.
Man, oh man, you should have seen the kind of reactions I would get! It was as if, suddenly, their opinion of me skyrocketed up the charts of coolness. I became this sophisticated, other-worldly creature who traversed the streets of Times Square like a pro and had every opportunity at her fingers.
The last two tidbits aren't entirely untrue (while the first two totally are - I am just a goofball, no sophistication or otherworldiness involved). I do work in the middle of Times Square at the Viacom building, which forces me to not-so effortlessly or gracefully shove myself through hordes of tourists. And NYC does provide endless opportunities, whether for a culinary adventure, the chance of meeting someone truly interesting (i.e., an unusual street artist), or that awesome dream job you've been itching for. It's all here.
New York City is so different from Paris, though. I must admit, I did have a bit of reverse culture shock. The amount of people on the streets doubled, the amount of noise tripled, and the possibility of getting run over in the street by a taxi cab quadrupled (which, with crossing Rue du Rivoli daily while in Paris, is a huge feat).
Sure, both cities have reputations that precede them, unbelievable architecture, culture, and an inordinate amount of tourists, but their flavors vary. Paris is a classier city, one with a regal quality. It's buildings bleed history, luxury, and thatje ne sais quoi that Paris does so well. Paris adapts to every person to deliver them their own bit of fairytale.
New York City is harsher, it demands more attention. It's where the business-minded come to thrive and innovate. It's where the weak are separated from the strong. New York Citymakes you take it's metallic wonder in, rather than molding to your fantasy.
Working in New York City has been a true experience. I am lucky enough to have two internships this summer - Viacom (specifically VH1), as I had earlier mentioned, and on the marketing team of Outbrain (www.outbrain.com, @outbrain), a content discovery platform. Whether I am in Times Square (Monday and Wednesday) or Union Square (Tuesday, Thursday and Friday), I make it a point to take 15-20 minutes out of my day to sit and watch the world pass me by.
I am a professional people watcher.
In Manhattan, the world is constantly buzzing. People are constantly moving, life is constantly rolling on - it's like there is a constant heavy bass-line pushing everyone along on the huge avenues. (Maybe Kaskade or Calvin Harris would be the ones to master the NYC soundtrack?) If Paris had a soundtrack, it would be something along the lines of Debussy or Vanessa Paradis' unbelievably catchy song,La Seine (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Z-NbQvhzKM).
Manhattan is busier, dirtier, and harsher, but I love it just the same. Paris is classic, cultured, and endless, and I miss it desperately. Nowhere else in the world could you for four months straight twirl your finger over a map, land on a random metro stop, exit at said metro stop, and wander the streets with curiosity and find new treasures each time. Each of these cities are constantly battling in my heart for the top spot. It's hard to see where I feel more at home, in two places where I feel comfortable with both of the languages.
I guess they each appeal to different sides of me. Paris is my inner wanderluster, elegant debutante, and wine-o. New York City is my goal-driven, attitude-y, ground-stompin' self. Put the two together and you have one girl, in love with the world, lusting after two of the greatest cities ever to be placed on the map.