I was born in Cork City, population 120,000(ish). Much as I love home, I always felt like maybe I belonged in America, but I only ever made it as far as London. This spring I finally got to New York, and the first 48 hours kind of blew my mind. In no particular order, here are a few of the things that I noticed…
1. Everyone knows New York = skyscrapers, but no one prepares you for how much Manhattan will make you feel like one of Rick Moranis’ unfortunate offspring in Honey, I Shrunk the Kids!
2. Drivers here honk their horns as liberally as Valley girls use ‘like’ and ‘uh-huh’
3. Having a roll of dollars in your hand makes you feel like Ray Liotta in Goodfellas, even if you only have six bucks
4. When crossing the road, you’d think the red hand would signal ‘stay where you are unless you want a cab driver to mow you down’, but to New Yorkers it means ‘proceed casually, you are immune to death’
5. No one, and I mean no one dresses like any of the characters in Sex and the City. Thankfully no one talks like them either
6. The chemist is called the pharmacy and they sell things that definitely aren’t good for you in there, like industrial strength teeth-whitening strips and bags of potato chips bigger than a sleeping bag
7. You’d expect New Yorkers to be rude, but they say sorry almost as much as Irish people do
8. The buildings aren’t the only things that are big: A medium coffee contains enough liquid to bathe a small hippo, a burrito is roughly the size of a fat child’s leg, ask for a large anything and you’ll need a wheelbarrow to take it home
9. The New York subway system has been expertly designed to make all tourists look and feel like complete idiots. Don’t believe me? Try inserting your Metro card
10. No one smokes. Ask a waitress in a bar where you can smoke and she’ll look at you like you asked if you could set fire to a child, not a cigarette
11. Try and maintain your sense of humour when you plug in your hairdryer into a US socket it emits as much air as a dog breathing on your head
12. There is more chance of a guy in London asking for your number in a public place than there is of the Queen donating all her earthly goods to the Salvation Army and joining a commune. In New York, men will approach you and ask for your number on the street, they will whoop at you at of car windows.
13. There are shops called American Eagle, Hollister and Abercrombie and Fitch – don’t let the different names fool you, they all sell the same thing
14. The street vendors are really friendly and polite for people who sell meat that will certainly kill you
15. Manhattan is the only place on the planet where dogwalking is a legitimate career choice.
Bio: Katy Harrington is Digital Editor of The Irish Post, the popular website for the Irish in Britain. She has writes regularly for The Irish Times, The Irish Examiner and has a weekly column in The Sunday Independent for over four years. She comes from Cork, but lives in London, which she loves despite missing her dog (and family) very much.
*Originally published in April 2016.