How did life go by so fast? It's already 2015 and I have been in the USA approximately 1.5 years. Another 1.5 years to go if my initial contract stands.
For me, 2014 had been a roller coaster of work, tragedies, weather. Being in the tourism industry the unfortunate incidents of the three airplanes took a toll on promoting Malaysia as a tourism destination. Of course being a Malaysian in general, I am saddened with the incidents that had happened, in addition to the flooding in East Coast Malaysia, with half a million Malaysians had to be evacuated from their homes. It felt almost surreal that so many things had happened & are happening and I am far away in a foreign land.
What have I learned living in New York so far?
1. To each his own
New Yorkers was voted rudest and most arrogant state. I find that it's not that they're rude, they're just in a hurry to go places. and they get irritated with tourist stopping in the middle of sidewalk to take pictures or just finding their way. but I also find that they are also individualistic. Everywhere I go, it is a common sight to see anyone sitting on their own in the parks, restaurants or even movie theatres. You can be in a city with millions of people and tourists, but can still be alone. I somehow liked the freedom of not being observed by another person, because everyone just goes about their own business and don't care about you. It is liberating to some level.
2. Weather is harsh
This is all God's work and I am not questioning it. But surviving harsh weather in NY is a feat especially during my first year here. Extreme cold in winter and extreme heat in summer. However, when I completed a full cycle of the four seasons, I feel that I fare so much better now. Our first year in NY, the heater at home broke down twice during dead of winter of probably about -2 Celcius and we were without heat for a few days while the repairmen worked on the boiler. We survived on two small portable heaters that were left behind by the previous owner. It was so cold inside the house that we had to wear winter coats in the house. That was an interesting winter. There were several winter storms especially in January and February 2014, we were grounded at home unable to go to work due to bad weather, schools were closed, some offices were closed for the day. Undeniably, it was the most beautiful thing to see after the winter how the snow blanketed everything, so serene and untouched.
3. The feeling of nationalism
Being in a foreign land makes me want to stay to my roots stronger. something I may have take for granted when living in Malaysia. Being in NY, it is exciting to meet other Malaysians here, either visiting, studying or living in the US because it is not a big community of Malaysians here. We'd be saying hello or smiling at the very least to acknowledge them, not like when I visited the UK last summer and Malaysians that I see don't even look my way.'
4. Lip service
New Yorkers say their mind, and sometimes they can be loud and brash when they speak. For instance in a subway, they would talk loudly as if everybody wants to hear their conversation. I think this somehow related to how they are trained to speak up. But on the other side, they can be courteous too. There's always "excuse me" or "I'm sorry" if somebody bumped into you in a crowded area. When I shop in a store, there will always be a "hi, how are you?" or "hi, can I help you?" that comes my way because they are trained that way. Sometimes when they are extra nice or genuinely like chatting with customers, you feel like the store is so homely, especially a local store near your area. This is something that Malaysia should cultivate, instead of the shop assistant hovering around when we browse in a store. Just ask if we need help, and if won't don't just be on your way. Hovering is very creepy.
My initial reaction when I first came to New York (and I can say my observations above are based on my living in New York for the past 1.5 years) was apprehensive at how New Yorkers would act and didn't know what to expect. I think I was kind of timid when I first came here, but eventually learned that I need to speak up and be confident about navigating my way around New York. Now I consider New York my home for the time being.
On to more discoveries in Twenty Fifteen!