Monday, June 23, 2014

Diving In

I’m walking down the streets of the East Village after work. Its around 8 p.m. The sun is setting between the buildings and I just grabbed some “artisan tacos” from a tiny shop a few blocks away for dinner. As I head to the park to eat, rain begins to fall, people scurry in and out of shops and stores, taxis honk and a box truck roars by through a puddle, splashing me like a scene in one of the movies I watched as a kid. The clouds in the sky begin to break up enough to let streaks of light flash in between the gaps in the buildings as I pass by. I stop and look around; I take it all in.

“This is it,” I tell myself as I look into the sky, starting to walk along the sidewalk, again in unison to my favorite song. “Big city living... The thing you’ve always dreamed of.”

Adventuring through the hustle and
bustle of  NYC's Chinatown.
I’ve only been living in New York City for a little less than a month now and it already feels like home. I love getting up in the morning and only having to take a quick subway ride and walk to get to work. I love the diversity of people I pass along my way. I love the wide array of food options I have on my lunch break. Let’s not even get me started about all of the coffee shops on almost every corner. There are also clothing stores and record shops everywhere I look. I’ve read in the grass at enough parks to make people think I might not have a home. And, to top it all off, I’ve even grown to love getting stuck in the rain.

Needless to say, I’m like that timeless old cliche of a kid in a candy shop, taking on the big city one candy bar or pixie stick at a time.

Reading in the grass
at Washington Square
And yes, I know what they say: candy can’t be all you eat; it’s best in moderation. And I guess that same idea goes for moving to a new city, too. Most of my friends and family, while beyond excited for me to have this opportunity, asked if I was scared to live in the city alone. Wasn’t I afraid of all the newness? Shouldn’t I ease in slowly in order to play it safe? That’s the right way to go about things, right? At least that’s the mindset I was expected to have when moving from a small town in Kentucky to one of the biggest cities in the world. I was scared, nervous and apprehensive. I understood my family and friends' reservations, but how often are you a twenty-something, living in New York City, working at the magazine publication of your dreams?

So I’ve decided to dive in, and the ASME program helped me do that.

Exploring the High Line.
Besides working at Scientific American, while getting to do far more than I ever even dreamed of, I’ve gotten to meet and speak with some of the top journalism professionals in the industry. From an intimate and casual lunch at Saveur, to copy editing and drinking beers with Buzzfeed, I’ve gotten to meet some incredible people who have already taught me countless lessons about how to survive and thrive in this competitive industry. We’ve even been to Sports Illustrated and in a month or two, we will be having lunch at The New Yorker. Is this really my life?

I’ve also taken advantage of my free time. I’ve gotten my beach bum on at Rockaway Beach and eaten pizza at Grimaldi’s, after walking across the Brooklyn Bridge. I’ve also toured the halls of the American Museum of Natural History and explored the High Line and Central Park. I’ve already spent many nights, running alongside the Hudson River. Heck, I’ve even sat on a bench at the park in the rain, eating tacos while listening to music on my iPod, smiling from ear-to-ear.

My favorite dinner spot at
Tompkins Square Park.
And from all of this, I’ve learned a valuable lesson. Sometimes it’s okay to just go for it, to just live, explore, feel for the moment and take advantage of everything you have to experience. I’ve had all of these wonderful opportunities that I would’ve never even imagined experiencing, but I didn’t get here from being scared to take chances. While I’m sure I would still be having a good time, sitting in my room taking on this experience half-heartedly, I’m pretty sure that attitude isn’t what got me into the ASME program to begin with.

With all this said, yes, I do miss my family and friends. Yes, I do miss home. But sometimes, it takes diving into life and taking chances, to make the best of a situation and to really get to be where you want to be. So, sorry friends and family if I don’t call home everyday or text back as soon as I normally would. I’ve got life to live, one artisan taco and stroll through the rainy streets of this big and wondrous city at a time.

-- Kevin Schultz, Northern Kentucky University, Scientific American 
--Edited by Anna Hecht, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

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