Expat life | 2 years in New York

Exactly two years ago today, I started my new life as an expat in New York City. And if I already knew the City quite well – I had lived there for 6 months in 2013 – I started April 2015 without a job or an apartment, with just a (big) suitcase full of clothes and, let’s be honest here, no plan at all!

Two years is nothing but a lot at the same time. A ton of great things happened, shit happened as well, there were moments of woow, wtf moments and some “I can’t stand that place anymore, I am going back to Switzerland” moments. Life.

Somewhere within these two years, New York became “home” (but note the quotation marks!). I found a job(s), met great people, and learned to know this crazy city like the back of my hand (I wish!). But despite these 730 days living in Big Apple, I didn’t quite loose my critical sense and some things still appears so weird to me. Or really annoying.

I still don’t like:

  • Cockroaches crawround, sometiling ames even at work. I don’t have problems with rats and mice, but I truly hate these disgusting insects.
  • This weird habit of doubling plastic bags at the grocery store. I mean, for God Sake Fairway, make better bags or use paper but stop with the 2 bags!
  • Taking the subway. I loathe all subways, but NYCs one is more or less the antechamber of hell. Fortunately, I don’t need to take it for my morning commute anymore. And I still can’t say what I miss the most about it: body smells, cig odors or the disturbing promiscuity with strangers.
  • People who are calling your first name. Salesperson, bank clerk, doctor while your on the table, …
  • Through the looking glass, this charming customer who replied to one of my friend (working in a store) that she “won’t give {my} name to someone like you”. How nice!
  • Winter in New York. The freezing cold, the wind that runs through you, and the huge puddles, these amazing stretches of melted snow in which you will inevitably put your foot in, up to the calf.

This drives me crazy:

  • There is almost never a lamp on the ceiling in the apartments.
  • People who sit ON me in the subway (yup, on me. Obviously, my size 2 and myself are using too much space on the seat!)
  •  Being whistle at on the street. You know what? FUCK YOU! (Sorry but not sorry!) (I know this is an every day situation for a lot of women – and this is not fucking normal, btw – but in the place where I am from, guys have been educated and not just fed, so I am not really used to that!)
  • The lack of respect, especially when it comes to noise: slamming the doors, yelling at children because they need to calm down (!), playing drums (yeah, drums) in the apartment at 8am on Sundays. And not getting a sense of why this is not ok!
  • These stupid people who voted for Trump and now are complaining about their sad life and the loss of their health insurance.
  • All these people who bump into you, step on your foot, slam the door on your face. And don’t apologize.
  • The tax line on my paycheck. Always thought Switzerland was the most expensive country when it comes to taxes. Wrong!

It surprises me:

  • That you can pay your groceries just by saying your credit card number to the cashier, without even showing the card or any form of ID.
  • People who pick up stuff on the sidewalk, like furnitures. I usually cross the street when I see an abandoned mattress. You know, in case of jumping bed bugs or something.
  • That most of the workers have 10 paid days off a year. For a minimum salary of $9 an hour. With studios starting at 2K in Manhattan.
  • This weird relationship american have with money. Most of the people I know are always broke, without any savings.
  • People who spend a shitty ton of money buying new pairs of shoes every week, paying with their credit card, even though they already know they won’t be able to pay the bill.
  • The cashback you get from the bank when you pay your credit card bill on time!
  • And the entire concept of cashback. The more you spend, the more money you’re getting back. WOW.
  • The amount of people running as soon as temperatures are above 40’s.

It makes me giggle: 

  • All talk shows about politics and american administration. (John Oliver, I love you!)
  • The mass hysteria that immobilizes the entire city of New York every time it snows 5 inches on Manhattan.
  • People who don’t eat carbs but get waisted on too many mimosas every Sunday. (“Alcohol doesn’t count.”)
  • People that complain they are broke, while drinking their 4th Latte of the day. Trenta, of course.
  • These overjoyed people who tell you they cooked the night before. And are proudly showing you a picture of an already seasoned chicken breast from Trader Joes. With pre cooked and microwaved Brussel sprouts.
  • This passion for dogs, and all these people stopping what they’re doing to pet the cutest ones. (Ok, I did it once. But the little guy was tooooo cute to be true!)
  • The perfect looking girl, perfect brushing, perfect manicure, perfect outfit.
  • And the same girl on the week end at the grocery store, wearing a (too) tight legging showing her underwear, pink Uggs and dirty hair.

But that, I love

  • Wash’n’fold, this wonderful yet expensive service that consists in bringing your dirty clothes to the dry-cleaner and to get everything back within the day, cleaned and perfectly folded.
  • Stores open almost 24/7. Sooo convenient!
  • Seamless.
  • Yellow cabs
  • Same day delivery. In case of emergency or if I tremendously need something and that I am too lazy to go out.
  • Warm bagels from the store down my block.
  • Blue jays next to my window.
  • The internet everything. If I wanted too, I could live without even moving my ass from the couch, having absolutely everything delivered to my doorstep. (Including ice cream, oh yeah!)
  • Restaurants, bars, coffee shops and thousands kinds of food.
  • Speakeasies that serve great cocktails.
  • Rooftops with incredible New York views.
  • The views. From the bottom of the buildings, on the skyline, on my way to work. There is always something to look at.

Cheers to many more years… In New York or somewhere else!

30 Responses

        1. J’imagine! Les américains ont cette passion pour le travail acharné et les heures interminables au boulot. Quant aux papiers, j’imagine volontiers le cauchemar! J’espère que les choses vont s’arranger pour lui!

  1. j’adore lire tes article sur new york tu me donne envie d’y aller et en même temps de chérir mon chez moi bien français, qui sait un jour j’y passerais quelques jours de vacances!!!! gros bisous

  2. Super cet article, moi qui adore les états-unis je reconnais dans ton article certaines choses que j’ai déjà remarquées. Pour les doubles sac plastiques ça se fait de plus en plus ici aussi, c’est vrai que ça ne rime à rien mais bon!!!

  3. What a fun post, Amy! I seriously could comment on every single one of these items! But I can’t stop thinking about the hot bagels downstairs from your apartment. Seriously?? I’d eat so many bagels that I wouldn’t be able to fit through the door. Hah! And I totally agree with your opinion on the NY subway system. It’s a necessary evil as far as I’m concerned. Thanks for such a fun post!

  4. J’ai adoré ton article, j’ai appris pleeein de choses! Je n’ai été qu’une fois aux USA (en Floride) mais j’aimerais bien visiter NYC.
    Je ne sais pas si j’aurais le courage de m’expatrier si longtemps (je suis quand même très attachée à la France, surtout la nourriture 😉 ) mais ça doit être passionnant de découvrir une autre culture

  5. hahaha ca m’a bien fait rire et c’est vrai que les gens vivent qu’avec le credit sans se soucier du lendemain ou des urgences de derniere minute ! et d’ailleurs beaucoup ont perdu leur maison et voiture quand l’economie a chutee parfois je me dis bien fait pour eux ils ne savent que depenser sans soucier du reste ! parcontre moi on me demande toujours de leur donner la carte de credit quand je la passe 🙂 fort heureusement tu me diras 🙂 la neige beuuurk j’ai vecu au canada 4 ans j’etais choquee par la salete de la neige loll et encore ici a Boston 🙂
    Apres 10 ans a boston je peux dire que je me suis un peu habituée a tout surtout que c’est le meme systeme qu’a Montreal ou j’etais perdue les 6 premiers mois 🙂

  6. Je ne suis pas prête à changer de pays, pour les vacances ça va, sinon je suis bien dans ma région, dans ma ville, et même dans ma maison !!
    Tu as eu du courage de partir sans trop savoir ce qui t’attendait !!
    Je te souhaite un bon week-end. Bisous

  7. sympa le bilan de ces deux années !
    vu comme ça, on dirait qu’il y a plus de négatif que de positif ^^
    C’est marrant le manque de civisme ne m’avait pas marqué au cours de mes 2 semaines là-bas. Mini de rien , je comprends que ça soit devenu chez toi. J’ai bien envie d’y retourner !

  8. Ah New York, quelle ville extraordinaire ! Bien que j’adore m’y rendre pour les vacances, je ne sais pas si je pourrais réellement y vivre au quotidien ! Merci pour cet article très intéressant en tous les cas. Bises et bon weekend 🙂

  9. Ah! I love those expat series! New York is a mad city as far as I gather (only been there as a visitor though).
    I’ve gathered up why they must be broke: a) rents are expensive b) consumerism
    I was in Boston for 9 months and the only reason I didn’t buy tons of clothes was the fact that I would have to pay a lot to get them back to Greece (when leaving I shipped 3 boxes, mostly with my husband’s masters books and some winter clothes) and it cost 600 euros!

    But every week there was a sale, on anything: boots, tops, pants, you name it
    And yes the internet…I hate shopping online, I want to try these things on. I did buy online cosmetics though, books and a suitcase!

    1. hey Anna, thanks for stopping by! You got it right, these are – among others – the main reasons people are always broke ahahah! Everything is availabile at anytime so you better have a decent self control, otherwise it’s super easy to go crazy ! As for the shipping part, I am always amazed by the price it costs to ship even the smallest thing to Europe! Have a wonderful week, and enjoy the beggining of summer in Greece, I love it 😉

  10. Pour avoir passer près d’un an à San Francisco et à quelques mois de retourner aux US au nord de New York,en tant qu’expat (avec mari et enfants) cette fois, j’ai retrouvé beaucoup de déjà-ressentis.

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