Hello everyone, my name is Victoria, and I am an Atlas Corps fellow serving in New York City. I am really excited to share with you some lessons I have learnt during my stay in New York City. This will be especially helful for fellows who will be serving here and anyone who might be thinking of coming over here for holidays or so.

  1. New York city is Beautiful!
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Let me start by stating two disclaimers; first, I haven’t really been on a tour of NYC yet, so I can’t really talk about every town in the city. Secondly, I am from Nigeria, (and proudly) so my idea of beauty may or may not reflect what yours is.

Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way… I have been to a few places in New York, including; Manhattan, Bronx, Queens, and Brooklyn (I haven’t been to Staten Island yet) and I do believe the city is beautiful. From the skyscrapers to the art galleries, museums, zoo, stadium, parks and so on. While I cannot say this for every place in the state, the streets of New York are very clean and the buildings are just exquisite! The arts on the streets makes the city even more lively and the people are really friendly!

2. There is Cultural Diversity!

While I can’t promise that you won’t get homesick, I can assure you that you will get a little taste of home in NY. There is almost no cultural/traditional restaurant you won’t find in New York City, whether you’re from Ghana, Nigeria, Brazil, Italy, Canada,  Morocco, Sudan, and so on, you will definitely find your community in New York, now, they may be more in some places than others, but you will definitely find them!

Now let’s balance it up!

3. Apartment Cost a Fortune!

While there are certain things that are quite affordable in NY such as food and clothing (depending on where you’re buying from), apartment is definitely not one of them!

I remember when I went for my visa interview, even though every person before me was rejected (I’ll write about this later, probably do a webinar) everything seemed to be going well until the interviewer asked if my stipend also covered housing or it’ll be provided separately. I confidently said no, that my stipend also covers housing and the guy flipped! He was like;

“you have absolutely no idea where you are going to, apartment costs a fortune in NY, how are you going to survive with this amount” I had to quickly explain that it would be a shared housing and that my sponsor would assist and so on before the guy approved my Visa.

It was at this point that I started to get the picture… But nothing teaches like experience! Guys, to cut the long story short, what I pay for a room in NY for a month, is equivalent to what I pay for a two bedroom flat for a year in Lagos, Nigeria! And guess what? Finding an apartment is a TREASURE HUNT!

But hey, don’t fret, if you know how to work on a budget, you can still live comfortably on your stipend! My advice is for you to try to get a place to stay for your first month, maybe a hostel or so… Just so that you can take your time to find an apartment, cause it can take a toll on you if you’re not careful.

3. Transportation System in NY Should be a Four Year Course!

Trust me when I say finding an apartment is a big headache in NY but what’s worse is the amount of time you WILL get lost in NY.

I really can’t count how many times I have gotten lost in NY, or how many meetings I have arrived late to because I just couldn’t navigate my way. Trust me, I have gotten lost in every possible way! I have entered the wrong bus, I have entered the right bus going to the wrong direction, I have taken a train going down-town when I should be going up-town and vice versa, I have taken an express train/bus when I should have taken the local and vice versa, I have passed my bus stop, I have alighted way before my bus stop, and guess what, I am only 3 months here!!!

You can judge me all you can, but wait until you come here!

What I have come to learn is that, you can never go wrong with a google map, please always have your map and always, always have internet connection!

So, if you are a New York Fellow and you’re going through this now, trust me, you’re not alone!

I’ll stop here for now, I’ll probably continue in another blog post.

Thank you for reading!