Our next piece for Enchanted Serendipity’s EXPAT SERIES is written by Lauren.
Hi, my name is Lauren, and I’m currently living in New York City.
I moved here (permanently) in September 2014, to study at the New York Film Academy, to follow my dream of some day performing on Broadway.
I’ve had a love affair with travel in general since I was a young child; with my first trip overseas when I was just 2 years old; and more specifically with America since I was 10, when we went on a family holiday to Hawaii. Ever since then, I made a pact with myself that I would one day visit the mainland USA…and I’m pleased to say I did that for the first time in 2011. I travelled extensively through the states on two different coat-to-coast Contiki tours. I then went on to study in Ottawa, Canada for 4 months through my university course.
This 6 month adventure was an incredible experience for me, and I knew that I would be back here soon.
Returning to the USA: The Beginning Of The Dream
In 2013, I returned to New York to do a 6-week summer program in musical theatre – and even then I knew I wasn’t finished with this incredible country!
So here I am, two and a half years later, and I don’t intend to ever look back.
New York is fast becoming my second home; I love the hustle and bustle of the city; the people are both crazy and incredibly lovely (depending on who and where you meet them).
I think the thing I love most about this city is that my chosen career path is widely accepted and encouraged, where it was not back in Australia. I think also that living so far away from home motivates me very much to succeed.
What It’s Like To Live In NYC As A Local
In terms of living as a ‘local’ in the Big Apple; it’s actually easier than you might think.
I tend to avoid Times Square like the plague (which is unfortunate given I’m a musical theatre major, so I’m there more than I would like!). The subway is my best friend… most of the time! I remember when I used to be scared of the subway, (once I walked 60 blocks to get to my destination); just to avoid the underground!
But it really is amazing, and though there is no timetable and there are often delays, it is so much more efficient than the train system we have in Melbourne!
However, I must admit that living here has ruined me for patience…so much here is about instant gratification, so people expect things to happen NOW, and if they don’t, they get very angry. I’m not one to kick up a fuss, but the simple things of having to wait longer than 3 minutes for a train, or being somewhere without wifi definitely bothers me.
#firstworldproblems, I know.
American Life: Can An Expat Ever Adjust?
When people come to visit, one common conversation is about the food here.
Aussies are always shocked about the portion sizes, but I find in New York it’s not too bad. In fact, the takeout culture is amazing! It’s just restaurant food that can be delivered, so it’s normal sized. And so convenient! Again, with the instant gratification…
I must admit though, in my humble opinion the pizza here is disgusting. It’s always super oily, and really it’s got nothing on a great Hawaiian from La Porchetta (a well known Italian restaurant chain in Australia), that’s for sure!
The things I felt I had a tough time adjusting to was the more material things…. A complete lack of space in my apartment (although I’m lucky and my room actually has the option to walk around comfortably, rather than being the size of a queen bed…and that’s it!).
The Aussie food? I miss having my Cadbury and Vegemite fix very much. As for everything else, it’s pretty easy to fall into the New York state of mind, as they say. I’m not used to having spare time anymore, but I love it that way! And other than it being a pretty expensive place to live right now, it’s absolutely fantastic!
Being away from family and friends has been ok most of the time, but as you would expect, it has its moments. Particularly for me studying musical theatre, I’m constantly in a more fragile state than the regular person; so not being able to have physical contact with those that matter most to me is hard.
However, communication is easy when I need it, thanks to facetime. So it’s not too hard. Also, I’ve been home once this year, and as I write this I’m sitting at JFK waiting to come home for Christmas as a surprise to my family!
What Comes Next: Dreaming Of The Future
If I could do anything differently, I think I’d have moved here sooner.
I got a taste of the “college life” when I studied in Canada for a semester, however I wish I had done my entire undergrad over here.
I wouldn’t trade my friends I have now from university for anything; but this would still have been an experience I would have loved anyway.
As for where to next? Hopefully nowhere!
I’m not sure what career path I’m going to follow after my program finishes in March, but I do know for certain that I’m not done living in this fantastic country; and as much as Australia will always be where I’m from and somewhere I’ll always call home; I’m proud to say I live in America, and I would have no regrets relocating here permanently.
I’ve considered the potential that a career might take me out of New York, perhaps to LA, Nashville or Chicago; but until I have a chance to spend an extended amount of time there to really fall in love with somewhere else, there is something about New York that just has my name all over it; and I never want to leave.
All in all, the experience of living overseas is one I’ll cherish forever. There aren’t many people that I know that fit in my category, and especially not at my age; so I’m pretty proud of myself that I followed my ambitions and took the leap of faith across the pond.
Though this obviously isn’t my first experience living overseas, I feel like the last 15 months have made me grow exponentially, and I can’t wait to see what the future has in store for me!
If you enjoyed this, be sure you have read Elaina’s Sicilian adventure all the way from Ireland!