Friday. August 26, 2022.
It is 4:03 pm at JFK airport. I am exhausted, but excited, hungry to take a huge bite out of the Big Apple.
Hungry but quickly satiated by a 150$ supper, or rather a 150$ Uber I have to pay to enter “the city”. I have dreamt my whole life to be here, and here I am with a hole left in my wallet already. Welcome to New York ! It is almost five when me and my super-heavy-suitcases finally arrive in the hotel room that my father booked for us. A short nap and an express shower, this is all I need before going outside and wandering in the streets, circling, turning right and left, deprived of any sense of orientation, like a worm moving inside an apple.
Eventually, my head is spinning, overwhelmed by the noisy atmosphere: music, boys honking, cars yelling, or rather the opposite, I don’t know anymore, I feel uncomfortable, almost oppressed, I want to hide from all the eyes that are staring at me. I look up, fighting to breathe, gasping for air. And as I am struck by a big green sign: “The Bronx”, a red flag starts waiving in my head.
Welcome to New York! Careful girl: you’re supposed to enjoy a one-year- journey here, not a one-way ticket.
Back in my hotel, I enjoy my dinner (offered as a welcome gift by a couple in the street with which I talked for a few minutes), watch a random American TV-show, and quickly fall asleep in my double-king-size-bed, already dreaming about the coming days.
Saturday. August 27, 2022.
I wake up early to enjoy my first real day in the city.
When I open my eyes, my mom is not here, but the sun is, and my heart gets warmer. 15 minutes later, I am ready to spend a great time. Direction Brooklyn Bridge! I buy my first subway ticket and get out a few stops after, in Manhattan, willing to walk towards my goal. With my new best friend, Apple Maps, we pass by Times Square, the Empire State Building, China Town… As if I was walking in a movie whose I was an extra, an unknown within an endless crowd of people.
I feel safe, I feel surrounded, I feel warm, “and I am feeling gooood”, as it resonates in my ears. The Bridge, finally. My legs are happier than me. I cross it, but stop half-way. I stop and observe. I observe and I see, far way, the Statue of Liberty. I see it and, out of my command, my eyes
turn wet. These are not tears of sadness, but tears of gratefulness.
I realize how lucky I am to be here, to have received the support of my friends, of my family. And a
thought crosses my mind:
“Jeanne, welcome to New York, it is your turn to play now. But, never forget: there is nothing you can’t do, right?”
Tomorrow, I will move in a dorm on-campus, in Manhattan, in a dorm that I will hopefully be able to call “home” in a few weeks. New York, city of endless opportunities, here I come.
Wednesday. December 7, 2022.
It is a strange feeling to realize that time actually flies when you’ve not even turned twenty. It is scary, but at the same time electric, like an inside spark urging you to make the most of every single experience. More than 3 months have already passed since my plane landed on the US soil, 3 months and hundreds of amazing meetings, moments, memories.
I now have very close friends with who I have discovered lots of places: to grab a good coffee or a nice glass of wine, to enjoy a crazy view of the city or to walk and enjoy nature, to go shopping or for a show, to study or to get tipsy.
Together, we have learnt how to tolerate the rats and to run after the squirrels, how to get to places for cheaper, we have learnt random words such as “stingy”, “moist” or “hillbilly” but also the rules of the American football.
Besides that, thanks to my time here, I now have a better idea of my career path, thanks to my
classes, my professors, and hopefully thanks to the internship at the United Nations I have just
gotten. I now am ready to move out the dorm and move in a new apartment to fully embrace my experience in the city. 3 months have passed indeed, but so many are left and I am willing to pursue my desires as I have done since the very beginning. I feel free to thrive, I feel like I belong here, like I can be whoever I want to be.
If New York is “the city of endless possibilities”, you have to live there once in your life to fully understand it, to feel it. And may these few words be a message in a bottle, an invitation that their reader will consider and accept, the first and mandatory step of each life journey that is to say “ I want and I will do it”.
Since I wanted and I am doing it, and I am now glad and proud to declare that I am a New Yorker (although still having my charming French accent).