New York City's Lessons

Author: Karstyn Orrell

Tags: Vacations

For years, I wanted more than anything to visit New York City. I wanted to shop on 5th Avenue, stand on top of the Empire State Building, be transfixed by the lights of Times Square, and take in the magic of a Broadway musical. My dream became a reality on my sixteenth birthday. After surprising me with the news that I would be spending a week in the 'Big Apple' for my upcoming birthday, my mother and I set out on a 5:30 a.m. flight from Charlotte to what was sure to be the vacation of a lifetime.  

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Our week was spent visiting typical tourist attractions (the Statue of Liberty, Empire State Building, Rockefeller Center, NBC Studios, and Broadway shows were amongst my favorites) and taking in the overwhelming sights, sounds, smells, and tastes of New York City.

It was a week of new adventures and a week of learning- and a lot of learning did I do! What exactly were these newfound lessons in New York?

Well . . .

1. New York City isn't called 'The City That Never Sleeps' for nothing. Coming from a small town where everything closes down at 9 p.m., even on weekends, I was completely thrilled to be able to stay out all night, any night. My first evening I spent shopping in a four-story (yes, FOUR whole stories!!!) Forever 21 until 1:30 a.m. Another morning, my mom and I were up at 4:00 to get VIP tickets to an American Idol Top 10 performance in Central Park. Even though we left our hotel while the sun still slept, the streets of Times Square were busy with people. Not once did I endure a quiet moment that week.   

2. Walking shoes are a necessity in the Big Apple- and not just to accessorize an outfit, either- you walk EVERYWHERE in New York.  At the end of every day, I would shuffle back to my hotel room with aching feet from the 15+ miles I had walked. Walking was truly the most widely accepted form of transportation that week.

3. As essential as sweet tea may seem to a balanced diet in the South, New Yorkers simply overlook its existence. My mom and I soon found out that the only place to quench our thirst with sweet tea was McDonald's. Because I had been raised on this sweet concoction, I found myself purchasing a large $1 iced tea under the golden arches multiple times every day.

4. A truly incredible Broadway performance can make anyone shed a tear. I am probably the least emotional movie-goer ever. I enjoy a great drama, but never once have I actually cried, even during the saddest of movies. However, I broke this tear-free streak during a performance of Wicked. I loved the musical since I first discovered its magic, and being able to see a live version on Broadway was in a word, surreal. During the end of 'Defying Gravity' an empowering number by the green-skinned Wicked Witch, my emotions got the best of me. For once, I cried. I cried tears of sheer joy. Of sheer amazement.

5.  Lastly, the feeling of standing in the middle of Times Square is incomparible. Just breathing in the air, being surrounded by lights bright enough to be seen from outer space, and feeling the hustle and bustle of city goers is indescribable. Times Square alone would have made my New York vacation worth every minute.

MY trip to New York City measured up to every expectation I held. It was, simply put, the best week of my life.