I guess it might seem strange to read an article about New York City when you live right next to it, especially in a section called “Adventure”. You don’t need me to know that the Empire State Building is quite tall and that the view from Brooklyn Heights is very nice. However, you may have forgotten that New York was the best city in the world. Do you actually remember your first time there?
I’m an Exchange student here at SUNY New Paltz. I come from Besançon, a small town in the east of France. Honestly, I have never met any French person who didn’t dream about going to New York City. We have all grown up with American Cinema and we have all wanted to have this amazing skyline in front of our eyes once. Of course, it mostly concerns touristic areas such as Times Square, the Statue of Liberty or the 5th Avenue, and I personally believe that The Empire City has much more to offer. But the most important thing is that from a foreigner’s point of view, New York City and even sometimes America in general seem to be out of this world. The tallest building in Eastern Europe is located in London and is still smaller than most of New York’s skyscrapers.
Therefore, you can try to imagine what you feel when after an eight-hour flight and a two-hour wait at the customs, you finally catch sight of Manhattan’s silhouette from the J-train’s window. You may be extremely tired, and yet, you can’t believe your eyes. Once you put your foot on Manhattan for the very first time, you have one easy reflex: you put your head up. You have never seen something as big, as impressive, as beautiful. In a way, you can almost understand what immigrants felt a hundred years ago when they arrived on that very same land.
You can smell the street food, enjoy the sun reflecting on a building’s window and look at the people who are so different than the ones you are used to seeing at home. I cherish America for its diversity, and I don’t know if there’s a more diverse place than New York. Wherever you are, you can listen to the different languages spoken, taste any food you want and admire the multi-ethnic community. In the streets, there are enough American flags to know that you are in the United States, but you’re at the same time in China, Italy, Russia or South America according to the neighborhood you’re strolling in. Going even further than the ethnic groups, people are all different. Walking on the street, you have a suited businessman, next to a hipster holding a Starbucks cup, or a worker eating a hamburger, all passing in front of the camera of a filmmaker. In New York, you have the feeling that you can be whoever you want: nobody will ever misjudge you. Is that the American freedom I had heard about?
I love New York because I feel it was made for me. Yet, I love New York because I feel it was made for everyone else. Isn’t it the perfect mixture of urbanism and nature? Of modern and old? Whether you prefer parks, beaches, animals, architecture, history or art, everybody can find his or her favorite place in the Big Apple.
That is why I believe New York City is the best place in the world. I think that the jugement you have of a place goes way further than its beauty. I like the city for its spirit as much as I like it for its architecture and history. To me, it is a place where everything seems to be possible, as if the city’s only limit was the sky. New York is inspiring. New York is pretty. New York is different. New York is my new home.
This article was originally published in the October issue of The Teller Magazine.