If asked for one word to describe my summer, that’s what I would pick.
I have experienced and learned so much, the details of which I won’t go into here. But I will take a moment to process it. Because coming into this summer I thought, and hoped, that it would be equal parts journalism and New York City. And that’s how it’s been.
I learned a lot from my internship, and I made lots of great journalism contacts. Hopefully that work will prove to benefit me as a magazine editor and lead to a job in the future.
I also learned a lot from the activities New York offers. This city has arguably the best culture of anywhere in the world. I’ve filled my free time with musicals, museums, churches and TV shows, all of which have been great experiences. I saw amazing art, heard fabulous music and took in spectacular architecture, and from these things I feel much more knowledgeable and well-rounded than I did before.
But the fullest part of the experience has just been life in New York: neighborhoods, parks, food and people.
Every neighborhood has a different feel, so exploring never gets old. I could live here for years and never walk every street. The parks are all beautiful, and each has its own feel. One of the best things I’ve done this summer has just been to walk around and look around.
There’s more food here than anywhere I’ve ever been. I could eat out every day for decades and never try every restaurant. There are types of food I’d never heard of and many more I’d just never had, so I’ve expanded my taste buds this summer. I tried Malaysian, Korean, Vietnamese, French and Mediterranean. I ate sushi, tapas, tempura, falafel, galette — and fried Oreo.
The people in New York are also fabulous. There are 300 languages spoken on this island, making it the most linguistically diverse place in the world, and I’ve loved eavesdropping on conversations in tongues I can’t even identify. Better people watching can’t be found anywhere.
And I talk to people. In line for TV shows, seated at musicals, waiting for the subway, walking down the street. Some live in New York; some don’t. Very few grew up here; more than you’d expect didn’t grow up in America. Some are really rude (read: waiters and taxi drivers); but most are nice, and I’ve tried to meet as many of them as I could. This variety of people in this city for a variety of reasons has been so much fun. And one of my biggest thrills comes when I, the former newbie, am asked for directions and able to answer.
So even more than the culture I sought out or the work I came here to do, just the experience of living in New York — this enormous, diverse and exciting city — has taught me so much about the world, myself and my place in it. Regardless of whether I end up here, I have enjoyed and benefited from being here, and it’s going to take me a while to fully realize everything I’ve learned.
There are now four days left of this very full summer. And after those few more bites, I’ll be full, too. At least for now. This summer has been constant newness and stimulation, and that has made it exhausting. I’ve been navigating and exploring every day, so now I’m ready to go back to my homes, places I know and feel completely comfortable.
But I also have combed New York up and down and gotten to know it inside and out. So even though I didn’t reach that level of familiarity in these 10 weeks, if I make it back here in the future, I know New York will take on that “home” feeling for me, too.