The New York Diaries: 7 Things I Did/Learned in My First Week in New York

Times Square from 50th St

It’s been crazy that I officially live in NY now. I didn’t expect myself to acclimate as I have. I am really trying to get my life together. For those of you who don’t know…I am in New York working as an apprentice for the next 9 months. I am so happy to have this as a stepping stone in my career and life. I do miss my siblings dearly and I have called my mom more often than I ever did. Distance truly does make the heart grow fonder and give you perspective. So, here are a couple of things that I have learned this week that I want to share with you. I also have some advice. Let me know in the comments below or give this a like. I am thinking of doing this series once a week. New York is not without the most interesting things happening.

  1. Don’t let the comfort of your home stop you from going out. So, when I arrived at my apartment, all I wanted to do was unpack and stay in. However, I didn’t have groceries. So, I forced myself to head out to the grocery store instead of using modern conveniences like postmates or another grocery service or eating out. Not that those are bad, but I wanted to really push myself to become comfortable where I live and the surrounding area. I found an area that had more than just my local Aldi, it was fantastic and I have been back at least two times since
  2. Take the taxi. If you can afford it, take it when you first move to the city. It cost me about $60.00 but I know I wouldn’t have been able to lug three suitcases through the subway and then up the stairs. Most of the subway stops don’t have elevators. So, if you are moving with all that you have, just save the headache and get that taxi.
  3. Subways aren’t that bad once you get used to it. The three words “Uptown,” “Downtown,” and “Brooklyn” will help you gain a general direction as to where you are going in the city. Of course, some of them are not listed and you will definitely have to use Google Maps to help you out. Uptown= goes up towards the Bronx. Downtown= goes down towards Staten Island Ferry. Brooklyn= goes off the main island towards Brooklyn. I know that it may sound silly to say all of that but it has really helped me gain a sense of direction.
  4. If you get lost, explore. (within safety and reason) New York is only dangerous if you aren’t smart about it or at least cautious. I got on the subway and realized I was heading towards downtown. Sadly, you can’t just transfer over, you have to actually get above ground and go to the uptown side, meaning that you will have to swipe your metro card again. I got off after the second stop and ended up at 50th st. I took a moment to see the hustle and bustle of Times Square from afar.
  5. Tourist is not a bad thing. There is so much to see and do in New York that avoiding the touristy spots means that you can really be missing out on the amazing things in life. Like, me getting lost and ending up near Times Square was my first moment of realization that New York is my home for the next year. The museums may be considered tourism but the exhibits are amazing, for sure. I still need to go to the Heavenly Bodies exhibit at The Met! If you end up feeling jaded, go on off hours. Go to Times Square early in the morning when you are enjoying your coffee or experience it at night when the people are in awe of the bright future they see.
  6. Getting my stuff delivered has been a nightmare. I don’t say this to freak anyone out, I am just telling you my story. So, in order to get someone to sublease my room, I ordered a folding bed frame, bed, and mattress cover. My bed frame was said to have been delivered but my roommate did not see it. I called Amazon, who were really helpful and replaced it free of charge. When I ordered my items from UPS, they wouldn’t deliver for the longest time even though I gave them my door code. So, I signed up for a UPS My Choice account, which made things a little easier but not by much. I also have a UPS store close so I had my personal boxes that my sister sent for me sent there. Currently, I am dealing with a desk that I ordered off of Amazon that got shipped through FedEx and was said to have had three attempted deliveries. I was not home for the first time, the second time I was home, and the third time I left them the door code on my account. I called FedEx, she was helpful, and she called the local facility who were really rude. You will find that shipping companies around here are actually really rude. Granted, some of them are really nice. My local UPS, is pretty nice. FedEx, I feel, is the most unreliable where I am living in the city. UPS is hit or miss, USPS has been pretty consistent.
  7. I LOVE the quiet. With the craziness of the city, I am always surrounded by people or noises or my A/C unit. I do not really hear quiet unless my A/C shuts off or I am asleep. I hear so many things throughout the day that I just need that peace and quiet. I don’t want the honking, the screeching of the rails, or the people who will randomly talk to you in a way that is uncomfortable. This is not to say that I don’t appreciate the sounds of New York, I do, but I enjoy a quiet mind that comes with stepping away from teh world and into my room.

I hope that this helps you! I know that it was a lot of information! I am hoping that I will get to document more of my time here and give you peaks into my life.

xx

Tiffany

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Spotify Me #1

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I love music. I haven’t met someone who doesn’t. I think that music opens the mind to enter a mental space that is focused and clear. I thought it would be cool to share my favorite playlists throughout the year to introduce you to new music. I would love if you would comment your favorite playlist down below!

Playlist: Pop Chillout

I have listened to pop music all my life. However, new pop music isn’t my taste and it can be hard to find the true gems. Pop Chillout holds 75 songs that are changed around every couple of weeks (I believe). I love this playlist because it, primarily, keeps a chill vibe without overwhelming my ears with over-the-top EDM or rap. It isn’t that I don’t like those genres, it is just hard to work with that kind of music, for me. I find that I can focus in on my work and enjoy the music.

Don’t forget to share your current favorite playlist below!

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Trip Advisor: Tiffany’s Reviews

Graze Box Code: HW2V4RZ6B

Review: Bath and Body Works Bow Ties and Bourbon

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I am so excited to share my first candle review! I think that it is good to know what kind of candles you are buying and what works within your budget range.

Packaging: I am absolutely in love with this mason jar packaging. The label is cute and it draws me in because it is both rustic and classy.

Durability: This candle lasted about 24-40 hours? I didn’t keep track of it entirely but it lasted about a week and a half. I am disappointed that the wick disappeared so that I couldn’t reach the 1/2″ (which you can see) and use it all up.

Smell: This is a light floral smell that doesn’t overwhelm a room but can make anyone who enters feel at ease. This candle is the perfect spring scent or entry to fall scent.

Budget: $12.50. You can get these on sale from $3-$6 depending on if you can get it during the semi-annual or candle sale. I would not buy these unless they were on sale, but that is usually how I treat everything from Bath and Body Works…avoid unless it is on sale!

-Tiffany

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Trip Advisor: Tiffany’s Reviews

Graze Box Code: HW2V4RZ6B

Wanderlust #21: Tips For Lack of Cell Service When Traveling

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This is something that I would just like to say is a fault for Straight Talk as a company, their phones are locked until one year later. I went to Berlin on the notion that I would be able to put a temporary sim card on my phone that had data. Sadly, because I had purchased my phone in November of 2016, when May 2017 rolled around, it hadn’t been a year. It was extremely frustrating as an international traveler to not have that stability. So, I wanted to give tips on how to travel with no cellular service.

  1. Download an offline version of Google Maps. My favorite thing to do is to “favorite” all the places that I want to go to and then download an offline map version so that I can reference it when I have no WiFi.
  2. Take screenshots of the subway directions to your destination. You can be super sure and take directions back if you wish.
  3. Addresses and addresses. I would 100% recommend making an excel sheet and typing out all the addresses of the places that you want to go, screenshot it or have an offline copy so that if your map doesn’t work, then you can ask a taxi driver or local how to get to a certain place.
  4. Real maps! You can usually get a map of the area or a subway map at the front of the hotel or hostel that you are staying at. Otherwise, find a visitor center that will have all the information that you will need.

What are your tips when you have no cell service?

-Tiffany

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Trip Advisor: Tiffany’s Reviews

Graze Box Code: HW2V4RZ6B

Wanderlust #20: The Berlin State of Mind

Image may contain: 1 person, cloud, sky, bicycle and outdoorPeople are on bicycles everywhere. No, literally, everywhere.

There is something about Berlin that has my heart and if I could spend my life living there for a couple of years, it would be a dream. Although there are tourists, it isn’t like London where you are in a congested world of tourists. Berlin just has a vibe that is hipster and chill. I found that I just fell in love with waking up and being in a city that wasn’t like anything else that I had ever been in before. The fact that people were on bicycles everywhere made me wish that I could ride a bicycle. The people were all very kind there and it was only sketchy at night in certain areas. Since I was filming a short film there were a lot of people.

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A museum near Alexanderplatz.

I think that the beauty of Berlin is that there is so much to do and yet there can just be space. I should elaborate. When I walked to a destination I would just wander in the direction back to the hostel but not really worry about getting back by a certain time. I passed by homes, grocery stores, cafes, parks, etc. I had this sense of fear and freedom. I think that the biggest fear was being unable to communicate with people and with little to no cell service. I didn’t travel as far as I probably would have if I had a working cell service.

Image may contain: people sitting and outdoorMe taking the morning sitting outside the hostel to just enjoy Berlin and be grateful for what I have.

In Berlin, my worries were less about school and what I am doing with my life. My worries consisted of where I am going in life. Where do I see myself? I had a lot of freedom to really think about what my life is like right now and where it could go. I watched people in Berlin walk the streets and drive-by, living their life. Berlin is a place for exploring, adventure, self-exploration, and perspective.

Would you all be interested in an Italy and London version of state-of-mind?

-Tiffany

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Trip Advisor: Tiffany’s Reviews

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Wanderlust #19: Berlin Hostel | The Circus Hostel

Image may contain: 1 person, smilingThis is me in the hostel bathroom downstairs. I know, cheesy, but the U-bahn map is so freaking cool!

To be honest, this was a wonderful hostel but it definitely had some pros and cons, more pros though. Upon arrival it is very open, there is a cafe to your left and a seating area on your right. The receptionist desk is a little farther in and they speak English which is nice. I had just had just had an awkward half-English conversation with the taxi cab driver, a super nice man. The whole place is very clean and has a calm and cool vibe. Now, time to break it down…

Price
I believe that it was about $27.00 per night in a larger room and a smaller room was about $36.00 a night. Of course, prices may have changed since I was there in May 2017.

Reception
Super helpful! I enjoyed talking to them when I needed help because I knew that whatever issues I had, they would happily help solve it.

Rooms
So, I ended up staying in two rooms, a 10-person room, and 2-person room. It was how it worked out with my flight schedule since my friend was booking it for me. The 10-person room was co-ed and it was okay to stay in. It was a little awkward because there was absolutely no privacy. Unlike Palmer’s Swiss Cottage in London, where curtains gave privacy, this was wide open. I also wasn’t used to sleeping in a room with men I didn’t know. The first night was mainly women with one male and the second night was a bunch of males and only me. It was fine though. I moved to the 2-person room where I stayed with one of the actresses on the short film I was working on in Berlin. She was awesome. The private room was also just perfect for privacy. There was a table and chairs and two chairs, a lockbox and dresser. My only issue with the hostel’s rooms is that there is no air conditioning, at least, not set on a cooler function. I was getting hot most nights which made it uncomfortable to sleep. So, to solve that, I left the window open. The windows are huge and let a lot of light in but the sounds of the ambulances is insane because they are louder than American ones. The noise from partiers is also a little obnoxious but that happened mainly on one night.

Bathrooms
The bathrooms are separated by male and female bathrooms, the showers are separated. The bathrooms are small but they have enough room so that you can change in the stall while the showers are a little roomier but they don’t have shelves. It was kind of frustrating to have to keep opening the door to grab what I needed, getting water everywhere.

Location
A great location if you don’t want to be around the center of the city. The great thing about this hostel is that it is on the corner of the intersection and there are so many cute shops and restaurants that make living at the hostel so easy. There is a flea market called the Flohmarkt am Mauerpark which is a definite must if you are in that area, it is about a twenty-minute walk. There is a park that is about five minutes or less from the hostel as well that is super cute. The U-bahn (subway) is right outside the hostel which is so nice and easy to get to other locations.

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Food
This is a selection of the breakfast that you can get at the hotel using a voucher or paying about 5-10 euros (I think). My absolute favorite thing to get was the yogurt with the chocolate and granola mix. It was so good and refreshing in the morning. There weren’t any warm foods, a lot of cold cuts and fruit. You could toast the bread but that was the only “warm” food. Orange juice and coffee are non-refillable so you would need to pay for another glass. Water is free. You can get other sandwiches and goods which are made fresh every day from their display.

Let me know if you have questions!

-Tiffany

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Trip Advisor: Tiffany’s Reviews

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Wanderlust #18: Language Barrier


Photo was taken at the Flohmarkt in Mauerpark in Berlin!

The language barrier in Berlin is not as drastic as some might think. Sure, there are plenty of people who don’t speak English but they do try to help in the best way that they can. I love that the people were kind enough to be patient with me or take my pointing at things on the menu as a sign not to judge me too harshly. I think that because I stayed at a hostel that shop owners in the surrounding area spoke more English.

For example, the people at the falafel shop right downstairs, across the street, spoke a little English and were friendly. The woman at the sushi spot around the corner spoke no English, she actually spoke Vietnamese and then German to me, but I couldn’t speak either German or Vietnamese. I may not understand German but I was always, always, thankful and made sure to tell people “Danke” (“Thank you”) every time I got food or went shopping. I feel that it is our number one priority (aside from being safe) as outsiders in a new place to be thankful for the people who help make our situation a little easier.

This was short and sweet but I think that it definitely had to be said. I hope that more people will take the moment to just appreciate and remember all the people who helped you when you were lost or couldn’t understand a different language.

Lots of love.