Wanderlust Wendy

America! New York City! New Beginnings!

The last few weeks have been a crazy blur. I had my leaving drinks the night before I left London. I went back to the Midwest for 10 days to catch up with family and friends. Even though I have been living in the developed world for the past year, coming back to America is still a culture shock. 

10 days of Midwest was plenty for me. More and more, I am convinced that the suburbia life isn’t for me. It is for many, but not for me. I find it very odd that although it’s 100 degrees outside, it’s possible to go through an entire day and only feel the heat for 5 minutes (walking from your house to the car in your garage, then from your car to the destination and back). Something about this life feels awfully unnatural. There is the convenience, and then there is excessive laziness.

I then packed my bags again and moved to New York City. As a teen, my dream was to live in NYC. Somehow, that dream went away, and now I find myself fulfilling that desire I had so many years ago. Somehow, wishes come true, but maybe not in the order that you want.

In the past week, I spent time running around getting my apartment set up, meeting new people at SIPA (School of International and Public Affairs at Columbia). I finally feel at home. This is where I am supposed to be. I walked through the building and remembered the information session I attended in the spring before I went to Cameroon. Again, my wish came true, albeit in a different order.

New York, Scene from Air

The student body is much larger than the LSE MPA, and much much more diverse. For one, people actually are interested when I say I was in Cameroon for two years. And in exchange, they have equally fascinating stories of life before SIPA. This is what I wanted. Academic life is only a fraction of the grad school experience; your peers can teach you a great deal. Tomorrow is first day of classes, and I am looking forward to getting the ball rolling!

New York, SIPA

Other impressions from my first week in NYC:

  • New Yorkers are so much more friendlier than Londoners. It’s so normal to strike up a conversation with people in the streets, or the guy selling you xyz in the stores. In some ways, this is the warmth that I missed from my Cameroonian village life.
  • London has cleaner underground and trains come much more frequently, but New York has AC in its subway.
  • New York, in general, is dirtier than London, but it’s nice to not be lost all the time thanks to the numbered streets.
  • There are way too many choices in every aspect of American life.

6 thoughts on “America! New York City! New Beginnings!”

  1. You definitely made a good choice for your MPA. I got swindled, like many other RPCVs, into going to SPEA at Indiana University. They did have some good classes but their support of Alumni is weak and job placements quite poor.
    Welcome back to the US. My friends loves London and I noticed the LSE have great grad placements for jobs. What are your plans after getting your MPA?

  2. your assessments of the differences are spot-on, by the way. except, i think, for the friendly part – i don't think new yorkers are that friendly. i describe life in NYC as "living with your elbows out" — to preserve your personal space on the subway, to make sure people don't take advantage of you. that said, though, so much of it is just about the outlook you have. if you're friendly, friendly people will find you. there's a great FT article on the cultural differences between the countries, about how americans will talk to you and brits won't. http://www.ft.com/cms/s/2/db51a45e-4472-11e0-931d…. anyhoo, i hope you're enjoying SIPA and NYC! 🙂


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