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  • Writer's pictureKate

Oh New York, New York

It was the year 2017, end of February, beginning of March.

My last year at Uni was difficult, not because of the assignments we had to do but because I stupidly decided to work more than usual. We didn’t have a lot of projects but those we had, were very time consuming and throughout the whole year we had to do one called Final Major Project (FMP). We could do anything we wanted for this one and I decided to do both photography and a short film.

Since I’ve been dreaming about going to the United States I decided to do my project over there. Visiting New York City and California.

This whole project was about leaving my comfort zone, traveling solo for the first time, finding models through different sources, not being afraid to talk to random people on the street, etc.

My journey started at the end of February, flying to New York first. My friend who I met in the first year of Uni, moved to New York and she kindly invited me to stay with her.

Day 1

I landed at JFK around 8:30 pm. My friend picked me up from the airport with her boyfriend. We haven’t done much that evening, tried to catch up after so many years of not seeing each other. No jet lag which was very surprising as this was my first trip flying this far.

Day 2

At first, we went shopping in Soho. After lunch, we went to Central Park. Everyone telling me about New York was so enthusiastic about this park. When I went there, it was still wintertime so trees looked sad and in my opinion in wasn't pretty, I just couldn’t see the beauty in this place. It's a massive patch of greenery with a big pond and that’s it. Maybe I’m wrong and maybe it looks much better in the summertime but it didn’t look special at all to me.

I’ve been spoiled by London, parks over here look stunning, even in winter trees are green, there are a lot of animals (including deers and foxes), flowers (in the summer), and some of them have the best views of the city.

After the park we went to The Metropolitan Museum of Art, inside it looked like any other National Museum and I’m not the biggest fan of those as I’ve seen a few of them already and they all have a similar vibe. I do appreciate the art on its own but seeing one museum with classical paintings would be enough for me.

Also, I always get lost in those museums, rooms are too big and it’s hard to see everything and confusing which way to go next.

Day 3

We wasted most of the day sleeping. First on our itinerary was Williamsburg and searching for DUMBO. Maybe we looked from the wrong way, probably I didn’t plan it right, we just couldn’t find anything interesting, we did see a few graffiti but there weren’t close to each other so it wasn’t that easy to find.

Brooklyn Museum, on the other hand, was very cool, we went there to see an exhibition called Pretty/Dirty by Marilyn Minter, it was very cool, a mix of photographs and paintings, a bit of nudes (maybe even pornography) but it looked very interesting. We got there half an hour before closing so they let us pay as much as we wanted instead of $15/20. In the evening, we had a little walk from Brooklyn, through Brooklyn Bridge to Manhattan, where my friend lived.

It was a very nice day, weather was still warm and sunny so the view of the city was beautiful. It was a long walk so we were a bit dead once we got home.

Day 4

That day I did sightseeing on my own.

My friend told me that Guggenheim Museum looks cool from the outside but doesn’t have anything too interesting inside, so I decided to see it from the street view.

The building is very modern but I thought it will be much bigger and just imagined it with some space around it, I was wrong, museum is placed in between much taller buildings which make it seem even smaller.

The temperature dropped that day, it was below 10 degrees.

I saw Whitney Museum next, I liked this place. Found a few very cool portraits and it was not too big, so much easier to navigate.

There is a terrace/balcony there, where some old guy approached me. I was just quietly taking pictures of the view and he assumed I wanted to take a photograph of him, a bit cocky I think but whatever. He did look interesting, red hat, colourful scarf, then he told me he’s the Mayor of Packing District. He is a documentary director and he didn’t forget to mention to me his popularity (LOL).

I wanted to see the Statue of Liberty without paying thousands to have a look at it. So I went to Battery Park, it looked so tiny from there. Thinking of it today, I’m regretting I didn’t take that boat to get closer to it. If I ever go to New York, I will definitely do that.

In the evening I went out again to the centre so see Times Square and Rockefeller Centre.

I wasn’t impressed.

Day 5

MOMA was first that day and it didn’t disappoint me at all. It was just great, a variety of work, beautiful pieces, and the building was very easy to walk around.

Unfortunately as always I left the house late and had to rush through the museum because…

I had my first model shoot. In New York I didn’t have to focus a lot on my FMP as I only had a few days in the city and wanted to see it.

When I posted my first picture on Facebook saying I’m in New York, my friend from back home messaged me and told me about this girl she knows who lives in New York and she’s a model and that I should message her. I sent her a message on Instagram and was so happy when she replied and wanted to meet.

Her name is Klaudia, she’s Polish, from my home town, a small city in southeast Poland.

Once we started talking she told me she studied in Krakow with my sister for a year, I thought it was a funny contingence.

So our first shoot started in Chinatown and Soho or whatever, we weren’t thinking of where to go, we couldn’t stop talking. At some point it got so cold, we had to warm up a little bit. We went to a bar having tea in our minds but ended up drinking alcohol.

Didn’t help with warming up our bodies but our heads were definitely in a better state.

It was my first night out that day, the club was small, full and turned out to be expensive as well. I got drunk as always and ended up staying in a hotel and because I was drunk, I booked a hotel for the following night, not the same one, so once I arrived there, I had to pay for a second night. It was a shitty place for a lot of money.

Day 6

I was meant to have a shoot with a girl I met on a subway but she took ages to reply to my messages. Most of this day I wasted on doing nothing. And it was my last day in New York.

In the evening I went out with Klaudia and her friends.

We went to the oldest pub in the city McSorley’s Old Ale House. Looked like an old wooden house with black and white pictures and seeds of rye or wheat (or something else) lying everywhere. You could only buy two types of beers, dark and light. And they didn’t have pint glasses, so if you ordered one, you got two half-pint glasses with the same beer. It was a great evening, we had some pizza in the middle of the night. Don’t get why people love New York pizza so much, original Italian is so much better.

The temperature dropped to below 0 Celsius.

Don't get why it was +16 on Tuesday and -9 on Sunday. Horrible.

Day 7

Ended up sleeping only 3 hours and had to go to the airport, couldn’t miss my flight to California (whoop whoop). My flight was from Jersey airport and it was a mission to get to.

I went to a bus station and asked the lady at the information point to give me directions, she was quite rude but I managed to find my bus stop.

When I was on the way, it started snowing, I was glad it didn’t happen sooner, I didn’t have any winter clothes with me. After I left New York it had a lot of snow and it was very cold while I was sunbathing on the beach.

I want to say sorry not sorry to everyone who loves New York. I’m not in love with it.

It’s a city, a massive one, you can’t walk anywhere and public transportation is weird.

I was very surprised because of the lack of screens with timing for the subway and couldn’t understand the weird system of the whole underground.

To be honest, that year I’ve been having some kind of crisis, I wasn’t appreciating England at all and didn’t know what to do with my life until I went to New York. This trip gave me a lot to think, I kept comparing both cities and I would always choose London.

I’m not saying that New York was horrible but it wasn’t what I expected and I think I had my expectations too high.

Why I didn’t like it so much:

  1. Very expensive, museums, art galleries, food

  2. Lack of grocery stores, the ones there are, are overpriced

  3. Tax not included (that’s the whole USA)

  4. Strange or lack of public transportation

  5. Unsafe - kept worrying something may happen to me

  6. A lot of rude people

I’m not an expert and don’t want to give any advice to people. I didn’t have the best time but everyone else could have the time of their life doing similar things to me or something completely different. And that’s okay. It’s my opinion, I’m not saying I will never go back, I might go but there's too many places I want to see first.

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