I don’t know how many of the students in our program are leaving home for the first time to start a master’s level education in the United States. After sticking with familiar cultures and environment for a long time, I faced a great cultural conflict by the time I landed in Illinois. After a long period of adjusting, I learned that New York was an amazing cultural place and a great way to reconnect with my heritage while in the United States.
It was a super-chilly winter after the fall semester. I was with my girlfriend, a bored little couple, in Champaign. In order to consume the spare time, we went to the ARC and marketplace almost every day. It was a late night when I was staring at my IPad, and something caught my full attention; a $147 roundtrip airfare to New York from American Airlines. We didn’t have much else to do and the weather forecast was showing that the weather for the next 7 days in New York would be warmer than Champaign. With no doubts, I booked two tickets immediately and departed on January 4th.
New York City is the place that overturned my imagination about United States. When I arrived in New York Laguardia Airport, I rushed to Times Square by train. The street view of Times Square was truly amazing, like a large screen TV in front of my eyes. The bright LCD billboards were trying to tell the people of its well-known the most prosperous city in the world. New York is a highly populated city where you meet people of different colors and faces. They spoke Chinese, Japanese, and Spanish etc. It’s a city that belongs to global citizens. In a few days of hanging around, I went to the Metropolitan Museum, Madam Tussauds, Natural History Museum, United Nations, Central Park, Brooklyn Bridge and the Statue of Liberty.
New York is a city of mixing cultures and races, where I believed there would be a remedy to my homesickness for authentic Asian foods. I scheduled time to visit the Chinatowns within the New York City area. Sean, a Malaysian friend who lives in New York, took me to Flushing’s Chinatown. When I came out from the Flushing-Main St. station, the street view surprised me. I would never expect there would be a place that looked so similar to Taiwan and China in the United States, with dense shops, dirty streets and all-Mandarin signboards. Well, I had a good lunchtime with Sean in a Hong Kong Dim Sum restaurant with price of $2 per dish. Moreover, I tasted Taiwanese bubble tea, Malaysian and Philippines desserts in Flushing too.
Convenience of living in New York is an attractive issue for visitors. There are intercity trains, ferries and buses which made the transportation within the city so easy and convenient. I purchased a $29 Metrocard and it was my flat transportation expense for a week. It stimulated my passion to explore more about this wonderful city. Seven days sightseeing was a short plan, and I will come back again next time to discover more interesting things in the city. See you again New York!