How to find interesting things to do in NYC?

So you just moved moved, eh? There are so many things going on in this city, many art shows, clubs, restaurants, bars, weird events, etc. Alas, it’s hard to actually pick the best one or venture out to these events, especially if you don’t know anyone. But you-can-do-it! I even went out by myself one night and had a great time (read the article here).

You can start by checking out events on couchsurfing.org in the NYC group. But I warn you: events posted there are mostly get togethers, the weekly CS meeting, or bar hang outs. Sometimes someone will post information about a particular event or an interesting plan but I wouldn’t count on it as my primary source for NYC events. Remember that the majority of people who post in the new york group are tourists or clueless newcomers like us! This is not to say that you shouldn’t visit the NYC Couchsurfing group! Au contraire, I think it is a great place to meet people who will tag along and go with you to events that you propose.

If you are looking for cool, different, and interesting things to do in this city I would recommend doing the following, in no particular order. Although, I may have unconsciously ordered it from best to worst.

1. Signing up to the weekly newsletter called nonsense new york (find it here: http://www.nonsensenyc.com/). Every thursday or wednesday, they will send you an email with list of cool things to do during the weekend. I know I’ve used the word “cool” a lot but I don’t know how else to describe these things. They’re COOOL events oookaaaay?

2. Checking out Brokelyn, a guide for broke people to go out in brooklyn http://brokelyn.com/

3. Perusing oneartworld to find art gallery shoes/openings/events where you will be likely to get drunk for free whilst being surrounded by pretty people and pretty things http://oneartworld.com/ 

4. Reading or following Gothamist – they’ll often do “Food and Drinks” neighbourhood tours such as this; advertise festivals going on in the city; and present news that will keep you ~in the know~ of what’s going on. You kind of have to dig through it though, not gonna lie.

6. Checking out the Evgrieve blog http://evgrieve.com/, which is a repository for events, news, and other stuff going on in the East Village/Lower East Side area. You also have to dig through it.

Update! New sources – this time in no particular order!

7. Check out 3rdWard.com or  and/or their respective Facebook and twitters. 3rdWard is a gallery where they host this drink and draw event on wednesdays (which should be checked out by you) but they will often post about events going on in the city.

8. brooklynvegan.com (foooo shooooo) is also a really awesome website where they post about a bunch of events, most of them cool and FREE. And no, they dont just advertise events for vegans! 

9. Brooklyn exposed is similar to brooklynvegan but the events don’t overlap so you should check it out.

10. Believe ir or not Brooklyn.com is an awesome source for events! haha i know right? yeah check it out. the usefulness of the information makes up for their dreadful webpage design. Maybe they’re trying to go vintage or something. Through this website, I found out Aretha Franking played for fucking free on August 4th 2011.

8. GET A TWITTER if you don’t already have one and follow a bunch of people, pages, bands, magazinez based in New York City because they often post shit to do like gallery openings, release parties (which often have free food and free booze) and places they are DJing and stiff. Basically follow me on twitter and follow all the NYC pple I follow? Ok i’m not gonna teach you how to use twitter lol but let me tell you its hella useful.

The more things i find that I can share I will let you know. Meanwhile, feel free to check out the map I made with all my favourite spots in NYC. I shall update it the more I get to know the city.

Where to offer your bodily libations to the sewer gods (how to pee) in New York City?

If you are a tourist or any type of human being residing in New York City, you may find yourself wanting to urinate (or defecate) at some point in time and at a place nowhere near a Starbucks or your home. I come from a place where public washrooms abound, at least one every few blocks. This is not the case in this fine city of New York. I don’t know why, but it’s something – an inconvenience – that people have been discussing for ages. Since Seinfeld, for example.

But not everyone is as clever as Mr. George Costanza. In this day and age, it would be silly for me to suggest one should remember things like locations of public restrooms when we have things like this: http://www.nyrestroom.com/

YOU ARE WELCOME!

How to find Friends? pt. I

Yes, friends!

I can’t be the only one to have thought about that! About how sad would it be to move to a new city, the best city, and have no one to share it or discover it with. Right? I worry. Human beings need to feel connected to other human beings. Social isolation hurts as much as repeatedly getting punched in the face. LITERALLY. Maybe not, but having a high sense of community (e.g. friends, family, groups) is predictive of happiness and subjective well being (Davison & Cotter, 1991). True story.

So how are we going to meet people, make friends, develop a high sense of community, and be happy when we get to NYC?

Everyone knows that people in OKCupid looking for “new friends”, are in fact looking for “new friends with benefits” and those looking for “activity partners” would like that activity to be sex. No judging. Au contraire, go for it guys. My point is that you won’t find friendship through online dating sites. So what to do?

The surest way to make friends in any city is to just go out, get a lil’ drunk, talk to people, and if they’re cool, get their number and ask them to hang out. I know, easier said than done. Unfortunately I can’t really teach you or anyone how to make friends. What I can do is draw from experiences where my friends and I have met people in NYC and managed (or failed) to make these acquaintances blossom into friendships, and try to give you some tips about how you can do that too. Read on!

Step 1: Ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Do I already have a friend in NYC?
  2. Do I have an acquaintance in NYC?
  3. Do my friends in my city have friends or acquaintances in NYC?
  4. Do my parents have friends or acquaintances in NYC?
  5. Do I or my friends know someone who is going to NYC at the same time I’m going?

If the answer is YES to at least one, continue to Step 2, if you answered NO to all, skip to Step 3

Step 2. Contact every single friend, friend of friend, or acquaintance living or going to NYC. 

 

It won’t be creepy, I promise. Send a personalized FB message telling them that you’re coming town and would love to see them when you get there. Although, if they don’t reply, drop it. Also, if they’re not actual friends of yours, remind them of how you met them or who gave you their contact info. I’ve met up with a few of my non-Torontonian friends’ friends when they’ve been in town. It’s really totally OK to do that.

Knowing as little as one person in the city makes a huge difference. If they’re good friends, you’re all set. For one, they’ll introduce you to their group of friends and you’ll hopefully befriend them them too. In addition, when you go out with them, you’ll meet more people  and potential friends. Maybe this is just me, but I am more likely to meet new people when I go out with a few good friends. Although I’ve never gone out by myself so maybe someone should try it and let me know how it go. Actually maybe going out all by yourself is a genius idea.

If you have no friends but decide to meet up with acquaintances or friends of friends, don’t expect too much out of it. Maybe they’re busy. Maybe they won’t like you. Maybe you won’t like them. Do try it anyways. If anything, they are someone to potentially go out with and perhaps someone through which you’ll meet a new friend!

When I’ve visited NYC in the past, I’ve always gone with friends and on a tight tourist schedule. Therefore, I actually haven’t had the chance to meet up with any of my friends’ friends or acquaintances who live in the city yet. I  do plan on reconnecting with them in May though. If not, I fortunately have two good friends who live in the city.

Apart from already having friends in the city, the next best thing is to know someone who is also going to NYC for an internship, school, or whatever. You’ll both be in the same boat and become buddies. I guarantee it.

Step 3: Couchsurfing!

I can’t stress enough how necessary it is to be on couchsurfing if you plan on travelling or moving to a new city. Couchsurfing is an online travelling community where you can find all sorts of great stuff for people living or passing through New York City (and almost every big city in the world), from a place to stay, activities, places to rent. Before you become a member of the site, I should warn you that couchsurfing is more than a free place to crash, it really is about meeting locals, spending some time with your host, exchanging stories, culture, recipes. Eitherway, it’s free and I highly recommend it. If you have any questions, feel free to post a comment below.

Useful CS links:

Step 4: Take advantage of your neighbourhood

The thing about living in such a monstrous city like New York is that people become very attached to their neighbourhood, or so I noticed in my many visits. I have three friends, each of them living in different neighbourhoods: Manhattan Lower East Side, Crown Heights in Brooklyn, and Corona in Queens. They each kn0w of a place in their neighbourhood where they have “the best ___ in New York!” The best brunch, the best bagels, the best coffee, the best burger, the best fruit vendor, the best sandwich, the best pizza, the best drink specials, you name it. It’s so funny.

SO, when you get settled, I recommend you take advantage of this pride people have of their neighbourhoods to make friends. Join a dance class, or a fitness group, start frequenting the same coffee shop or the same bar. I plan on taking zumba classes once I find a place. I’ll let you know how that goes.

I want to tell you guys a few anecdotes about a couple of cool and weird people we met in NYC and how we met them but I don’t think I can fit them in this post… Keep an eye for my next posts.

References

Davidson, W.B., & Cotter, P.R. (1991). The relationship between sense of community and subjective well-being: A first look. Journal of Community Psychology, 19, 246–253.

How to make it in America? (the show)

Moving to New York from another city or country can be very daunting, especially if you’re planning to move there indefinitely. I can imagine. I hear you. If you start feeling discouraged, for the love of Gaaad, watch the now cancelled (fuck you HBO!) but amazing show How to make it in America! Two seasons of pure awesomeness. It is seriously great and pretty realistic (apparently), unlike other NYC-based shows like Friends, Gossip Girl, or Sex and the City. It is produced by Mark Wahlberg, who by the way, said that the show might come back for a season 3! Fingers crossed.

Maybe if you make it in America, you too can have a TV Show! #ShootForTheMoonAndIfYouFailYouGetToLiveAmongstTheStats #DreamBig trololol. Although in all seriousness, it could happen. It won’t. But it could

Here’s the intro

Isn’t it great!!!???

Or this one, which is a little more DIY

How to look for a place in NYC?

If you’re moving there as an underpaid or unpaid intern, as am I, definitely definitely go for a craigslist temporary sublet. Don’t even contact a broker unless you’re sitting on a pile of money.

Step 1: Find out what neighbourhood you would most likely love to live in

  • Yes, because you won’t be living ~in New York~, instead, you’ll temporarily become a resident of the LES, Midtown, Bushwick, RedHook, etc. where you’ll hang, do your groceries and laundry, party, ~fall in lovooovvveee~ (JK), etceteruuuh.
  • Consider the closer to Central Park and/or the Midtown-South area of Manhattan, the most expensive it gets
  • Brooklyn is preeeetty happening and close to the ~cool~ areas of Manhattan so definitely consider it
    • EXCEPT neighbourhoods such as: Dyker Heights, Brighton Beach, Midwood, or Red Hook, that are suuuuuper boring far away.
    • Brooklyn Heights, Park Slope, Prospect Park, Greenpoint, Williamsburg, Bushwick, and Crown Heights are my favourites.
  • Queens is also not bad! I don’t know it as well as Brooklyn, but I can definitely recommend Rego Park, Astoria, and Corona. It’s also super close to midtown. I would highly consider it.
  • You can go to http://nymag.com/realestate/articles/neighborhoods/chelsea.htm  and check out every neighbourhood description, including average rent, in Manhattan, Queens, and Brooklyn
  • Also, check out this homicide map, although who cares, we’re young and invincible — unless you’re a black/latino man because of the racist system of oppression we live in


Step 2: Figure out $Budget$ and what you’re willing to compromise

  • Now that you carefully researched every neighbourhood, you can narrow down those you want to live in according to price
    • I know this should be Step 1, however NYC is pricier than most cities so you might need to readjust your idea of what an expensive rent is
  • Don’t compromise on location: If there is anything that years of watching HGTV have taught me, it’s that it’s all about Location! Location! Location!
    • I mean think about it, who cares if you live in a closet as long as it’s close to cool bars, a laundromat (no joke), cool restaurants, cool people, and whatever else you need to be happy
    • For me, that’s the Greenpoint-Williamsburg-Bushwick area #justsaying #biased
    • If you can totally envision yourself being the happiest person in X neighbourhood, make it a goal to a) live there or b) live a close subway ride to it if too expensive
    • If you definitely want to get the Manhattan experience, whatever that may be, you’ll definitely be paying tons of money (a minimum of 900-1,500/month per room) but if you can afford that, do it, ~no judging~
    • Consider that regardless of where, you WILL be sharing an apartment with a bunch of people
  • Compromise on space: because, if you’re doing it right, you won’t even be in your apartment most of the time
    • Having a tiny/crappy room may encourage you to get out more, which is great!
  • Tranportation: New York has many subway lines and an awesome subway system, however some of them are evil and break all the time – BEWARE
    • The G is perhaps the worst
    • The L is pretty bad too
    • The others are OK but you never know then they’ll put a line or station “under repairs” so take that into account
    • Try to live somewhere where 2 subway lines intersect
  • Safety: Ok, NYC is pretty safe. You will probably be OK as long as you don’t take unnecessary risks like stumbling to your home intoxicated and alone at 4am. If you find a place that’s in a “bad” neighbourhood but want to take it anyways because it’s cheap (been there), make sure it’s close to a subway station so the walk home is not too scary. Protip: if you find a place that sounds lovely, visit the neighbourhood at night before viewing it and if it scares you a lot, don’t take it. 
Step 3: actually look for the place

Step 4: contact the person renting it and try to get it

  • Lol, as if it was that easy – it’s not
  • First, be aware that NYC is mostly a renters market and that you’re in a huge disadvantage because you’re not in the city yet (assuming that you’re doing all the searching from home).
  • I would actually recommend heading to NYC a week or so before a month starts, doing CouchSurfing or staying with a good friend for a couple of days – maybe a week – and looking once you’re in the city
  • Most places don’t even usually go up before 2 weeks they’re available
  • Otherwise, make sure to write a nice email where you outline when you’re getting to they city, why, and suggest a Skype meeting/tour of the place
  • Wait… you don’t know what couchsurfing is??? OMG, only the best project ever  –> http://www.couchsurfing.org/
  • Protip: while apartment-hunting, ALWAYS bring a blank, non-signed cheque when you view a place — just in case you end up absolutely loving it. That way no one can take it from you. Muahaha.

My internship or how to get one in NYC

Hey all! So today’s post is going to be about how I got my internship in New York and how YOU can get one too! Let me tell you, it’s fucking kind of hard and it requires a lot of tedious work. But it’s definitely definitely do-able. I can’t guarantee you that it’ll be paid but it’s not unheard of. If you’re a schedule type of person, I recommend factoring in about 6-10hrs/week to look for one and prepare the applications. I think that’s how much time I spent, at least.

(Note: upon request, I’d be happy to make post about other non-internship types of visas)

Step 1: Figure out the type of visa you need to go to the US as a paid/unpaid intern from your country (if you’re a US citizen, skip to Step 2)

  • Unfortunately, you can’t do an internship with merely a tourist visa. At least not legally. I may not be an expert but I did read the US immigration website back and forth at least twice. 
  • The visa you want is the J-1 “exchange visitor visa” — find more info here
  • It is easier to find an internship and get an appropriate visa if you’re enrolled in or right out of university — find out at your career centre of what type of programs you can do to work abroad (e.g. in the US)
  • If you don’t want to bother with paperwork or doing it all by yourself, try to go through an “international exchange” or a “working holiday visa” program
    • The website you need to check out to find out about all the available exchange programs is www.iena.org — IENA is an organization that promotes cultural exchanges throughout North America. Not sure if this includes Mexico or not. It should but who knows, #racism. 
    • SWAP is the program I’m doing (note: pretty pricey)
    • You can also try  becoming an au-pair or a camp counsellor (cheaper)
  • I recommend checking at the US consular office/website of your country. You can also send them an email at fmjvisas@state.gov.
  • Important: before you start applying for internships you need to have a clear idea of how you will get a visa and make sure to include that in your resume or cover letter. Otherwise, your potential employer might not take you seriously. Don’t lie.

Step 2: Make a list of your most “marketable” skills

  • I’m serious, this will make it easier to find positions that suit you best
  • Include the following
    • languages you speak
    • communication skills (you write well? you can speak to people? include it!)
    • sports you play
    • any internet/social media skills (i’m dead serious)
    • computer software you can use (microsoft excel, imovie, etc.)
    • experience relevant to the position

I recommend including this as the first rubrique of your resume because it’s the first thing that a potential employer will read, right?

Step 3: make a list of all the cool places where you’d like to intern and their websites

Strategy 1 – Use google maps 

        • Go to google maps, search for “New York City” and type a few key-words relevant to the type of internship you want to get. For example, if you want to work in advertisement, search “advertising company/agency”, like this:

        • Then you’ll get a the location of all advertising companies in manhattan/brooklyn/queens. Like this:

        • Make a list (in excel or word) of all the ones that have cool locations or that seem cool and their websites
        • Go through the websites and see if they offer summer paid/unpaid internships – you won’t believe how many agencies, companies, organizations, and institutions do!
        • Apply

Strategy 2: General and specialized job search engines

Good luck!!!

Other recommendations:

      • Unpaid internships are definitely easier to get. If money is an issue (it is for me), make sure it’s not a full-time position so that you can get a part-time job
      • Make sure you have at least two people (a prof or a previous employer) who are willing to write you a letter of reference or be your reference
      • Check out the NYC group at Couchsurfing.org — a travel online community (it’s free)
      • Go to New York as a tourist a couple of times and try to meet people – it REALLY HELPS to go on a “reconnaissance mission” before moving there.
      • Check out AIESEC – they have a bunch of programs for current university students and recent grads (global organization) who want to go study/volunteer/work abroad. definitely check it out!!!
      • Don’t be scared to email and re-email or even call if they initially get back to you and then stop.
      • Leave a comment if you have any more questions!

I found my internship through idealist, actually. It’s unpaid but exactly what I want to do, which is work in environmental education programs. I have no doubt it’ll be awesome. I’m gardening with kids all summer! So fun.

My next post will be on how I’m trying to find a place!

~Work Visa~

So I got my visa yesterday! Woot. Woot. To answer the question “How the hell is a Canadian gurl is going to live/work in NYC?”, let me tell you it was NOT easy (or cheap).

First, you should know that I’m dark skinned and I don’t “look Canadian” so going the illegal route was not an option for me. I’m way too terrified of getting deported. Blame the years of living in central america and hearing that so and so got deported from the U.S. See, unfortunately immigration would see me as a latino illegal immigrant before seeing me as a canadian illegal immigrant. Oh well. Racism.

If you’re white and/or broke and love taking risks, you should do it ‘cus whatever. My white/male privileged friend did it in Portland and he didn’t get caught so there.

So what I did is I went through a program called SWAP “working holidays”, which allows you to work 3-4 months in the US. You can do it as long as you’re a full-time University student and Canadian citizen. I’m graduating this June so I was eligible. It costs around $700 (health insurance included). Told ya, it’s expensive. But honestly, I’d rather pay that than risk getting deported and not be allowed back in the States. There are some restrictions regarding the type of work you can do. For example, you can’t be a camp counsellor or work in the health industry. That seems reasonable.

I don’t have a job yet but I might have an internship. Hopefully I won’t end up homeless. Also, I’m currently looking for a place to live. More on that later.

Cheers!