“I can’t believe it!” were the first words that came out of my mouth on June 17th, 2007, as I flew over the Manhattan Bridge in New York City, The Big Apple, NYC, The Greatest City in the World. I had been waiting for this day for months and it had finally come. It was going to be a dream come true. All my life I had dreamed of coming to New York City; the movies and pictures made it look so spectacular and unreal that I needed to see it. I needed to feel it. I needed to know why all the movies were filmed there. I needed to know what all the fuss was about this grand, city 3,000 miles away. I was 15 years old, and I was ready to explore The Greatest City in the World.
The first adventure I had was riding the subway. The first rule I learned was to be aggressive. Don’t let others go ahead of you because the will push you off your feet to get in the train before you (I learned the hard way). But the subway was an adventure all in it’s own. Where do I get off? Which train do I catch? In my hometown, Imperial Beach, California, there are no subways; I have to drive everywhere. And in the words of Immortal Technique, the subway is a “multi-cultural slave ship.” There was every kind of person on the subway: Indian, Jewish, Italian, Puerto Rican, Jamaican, Russian, business-men, hippies, gangsters, homeless people, college students, and “indie” musicians. You name it, that person was on it. I had never met an Indian or Jewish person before. This is when it hit me: For 15 years, I had been missing out on different cultures and people. While Imperial Beach is culturally diverse, it’s a far cry from the amazing diversity in New York City. I didn’t get to experience other cultures. Knowing that I was surrounded by every kind of person was amazing. In that first summer in NYC, I had become worldlier in one month than I had in Imperial Beach for 15 years.
As my trip in the Big Apple thrived, I became more cultured, open-minded, and got to experience the most beautiful places in the world. I went to Coney Island and ate Nathan’s famous hotdogs and lemonade. I went the well-known Rockaway Beach that The Ramones sang about. I took a ferry ride to Staten Island, which is FREE, and got to view the Statue of Liberty up close (the line was insanely long). I went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. I went to Time Square and got the most amazing pictures of what I had seen in the movies. I went to Chinatown, and had the most delectable dumplings and I tried bubble tea for the first time ever, which was marvelous. I saw the Empire State Building, but we didn’t go inside because it was $45 to go inside! I went to Curry Hill and I had Indian food for the first time. I went to Central Park and saw its beauty. Every day I think about what I experienced that summer. I witnessed the Greatest City in the World and it changed me. My whole mind had been transformed into a culture-crazed cooking pot. I loved being around so many fascinating, different kinds of people and their cultures. That month changed me; it opened my mind. The Big Apple gave me the world.
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