Made in Harlem…

…will be tattooed on the back of my foot if I survive the next two and a half months here without getting mugged or worse. JUST KIDDING. Although it would be kinda cool. But also kinda painful. So, its not gonna happen, don’t challenge me. Jupp, I am living in New York. A dream coming true. However, Harlem is not quite the New York that you picture. Its not Times Square or 5th Avenue, its not SoHo, not even Little Italy. It still got Charme, Charisma and Character. You gotta be careful of what you’re doing. Going out late at night is not really advised. Being kinda a minority here, as white girls, is unusual and something I have to get used to. But Jess and I learned not to look like tourists. We got our “bus faces” on. You know, showing the world: “You bedda NOT mess wid us DUDE!” and it works-so far. Our apartment is cute. Its nicely furnished, our room is just big enough for two (since we are on a budget, Jess and I have to share a double bed- which gave us quite interesting looks from our French roommates in the beginning). The Frenchies are pretty cool and we are getting along with them very well. So, its definitely a nice atmosphere and something great to come home to….if you actually had to leave the apartment. While Jess has actual work hours for her internship, I can do a lot of work online and hence don’t have to come into the office a lot. Interning for an NGO gives your work very much a touch of “don’t worry, be happy” kinda thing. You know, all of them are very relaxed and happy about you working motivated. Anyway, being at home means being super flexible. Most of the time I am chilling, sometimes I go and explore something in the city- either on my own or with the friend of ours that just joined our group of NY interns. His apartment is SICK! Its a three-minute walk to Times Square in one direction and three to Central Park into the other. Hence, he lives CENTRAL but has less of a neighborhood feeling. Soooo…there is good and bad even in a $3000/month apartment in Central Manhattan. BOOYA!

So, its been 2 weeks into my little adventure and I have already seen so much that I am starting to regret not having posted stuff here earlier. Oh well, little summaries will have to do.
Jess and I had our first shopping-for-food experience on the very first day. Being on a budget makes it hard living in New York- especially since there is so much tasty, fat, unhealthy stuff for little money. Like…McDONALDS STRAWBERRY MILKSHAKES. Are you KIDDING me?! this stuff is so much better than it is in Germany. Or…STARBUCKS CHOCOLATE CHIP FRAPPUCCINO ICE-CREAM! its like made for me. Or…Ben&Jerry’s in any possible color or flavor. AmAzzzInGGGGG. The people that were in the supermarket around the corner that day must have had such a fun time listening to me running through the aisles like a little kid, shouting “Look Jess, the Ice-cream choice, can we buy the Mint one….oh wow, all of these are Oreos?! AND OH.MY.GOD…there is an ENTIRE aisle just for CEREAL?!” and it went on like that for several minutes. I felt like the Eastern Germans must have felt in 1990 when they went to Hamburg for the first time. So, we invented the Treat-of-the-Week, which allows us to buy one American awesomeness from our weekly budget. Its usually either ice-cream or oreos or donuts. And once every week, we eat dinner out, so that I get to know the American fast-food culture. Sometimes, this ends like this: 

Every once in a while thought, we cook healthy and German for our Frenchies. Successfully:

I also love Americans. They are so friendly. Except for one day, when Jess and I went to Times Square. They have little red foldable chairs there you know, where you can sit down at little red tables and just soak in the atmosphere…if there are free seats. So, trying to safe us a spot, I walk up to this man who was sitting on a table with one chair, folded together and leaning on the table. In Germany, this would mean that the chair is free. I friendly ask that mean: “Excuse me, is this chair free?” and the man just starts yelling: “What does this chair say?!” Confused me thinks he is stating the obvious and am attempting to grab it. That drives the man nuts. He shouts: “WHAT DOES THIS CHAIR SAY, STUPID?!” Jess grabs my arm and drags me a few meters away from this guy. A few seconds later, the man’s friend comes back and sits down while the man starts complaining about my stupidity in a loud voice, emphasizing how plain ignorant, impolite and STUPID he thinks I am. Finally, I cannot bear it any longer, astonished about HIS impoliteness and ignorance. I turn around and just: “Excuse me, I am standing right next to you, I can HEAR you! What the heck is your problem? Its a sunny day, we are in New York, you still got your chair…relax a little!”. BAM. Me for the win. Just a few days ago Jess told me that, while this incident occurred two weeks ago, she is still frustrated about not having defended me and is now just waiting for the moment a random stranger is yelling at me. She got her words ready now. We still got happy shots on Time Square:

I am also getting more accustomed with our neighborhood. Harlem is doable as long as you keep certain rules in mind. However, this one time, I really got scared to death: It was the middle of the night, our window was open but the security bars closed. Suddenly, a loud noise wakes me up and it doesn’t take me long to realize that it comes from the fire ladder outside of our window. As if either heavy wind was shaking it or as if a person was trying to pull it down. But there was no wind that night…
I freaked out but the only thing that Jess had to contribute to the situation was a sleepy “Dafuq?”, which didn’t really help. In the morning after, I slept in late (it was a weekday but…flexible work hours, remember?) but again got waken up by sounds from the fire ladder. I was close to a break down. Judith knows how jumpy I am, how easy it is to freak me out. And this time, I actually heard heavy steps climbing up the fire ladder. I wanted to grab for the pepper spray on my night table but realized quickly that I had never unpacked it and would have needed scissors to get it out. No time for that. Paralyzed I sat in my bed listening for any sound that could tell me more about the situation outside. Eventually, a male voice goes: “I am down here and I am coming up now.” I FREAKED. Inside. Didn’t wanna give myself away. After a few more minutes I collected all my left over courage and sneaked to the window to look down. What I saw? A cable guy repairing my neighbors TV. Oh well…

Apart from that, Ive done a lot of sight seeing already. The touristy stuff. Last weekend was awesome, we went to NJ to visit a college friend of ours. Spending a day at the beach? Best decision ever! Underestimating the sun and not putting enough sun block on? Stupid as *peeeep* Now I am red as a crab and every single part of my body hurts. Actually, it currently starts itching. Next will be peeling. Hmmmm, attractive. But the day was so good, it was worth it…kinda. I also tried to learn how to skim board but that *peeep* is *peeep* difficult. Gave me a few nice blue stains. However, the waves in the Atlantic Ocean are so much fun. They are huge though and sometimes you just feel like the ball in a basketball game between one wave and the other.

On Sunday, Jessi, I, the friend with the midtown apt, one of our frenchies and another girl I am interning with went to Brookyln via Brooklyn Bridge at dusk. great pictures:

We also had a late-night pick nick in the Brooklyn Bridge Park with a view over the Manhattan Skyline. More and more of great, breathtaking pictures!!!

What shall I say? Its only been roughly two weeks and I am already convinced that this is my city. I love this place. And I can say that this summer for sure will give me an other side of New York as well- the part that isn’t glamorous but poor or on the edge, where people dont wear Prada but carry PathMark bags. I still love this city. With all its up-and downsides. I love the people, the atmosphere, the contrasts. This is where I belong. And I am so, so glad that there is still more to come. So much more to come (hopefully).
Now, I really hope this makes up for my past weeks of absence. Its just been to many impressions coming at once.

P.S. Sunshine2091 doesn’t have that random of a number choice…think hart Judith, I am sure you will find out 😉

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One thought on “Made in Harlem…

  1. Pingback: How To Survive In New York City As An Unpaid Intern (And Things To Do For Free) | We Found A Way

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