Tuesday, July 22, 2014

How to Thrive and Survive in NYC

I’ve been here for about seven weeks and have learned many things in this short time about living in one of the country’s busiest cities. Every day I get up, walk to the subway, work, look for food, explore, shower, rinse and repeat. With that much repetition and practice you could easily say I’m somewhat of an expert.

But, FYI, living here is not the cakewalk I thought it would be. There are key things I wish I would’ve known before coming here. Lucky for you, I’m willing to share.

Below are my five tips for thriving and surviving in the concrete jungle. Or rather, what you should come armed with and keep with you at all times; and no, these are not things you can find at Duane Reade at the corner of 14th and 3rd.

This is a place full of waiting. If NYC were a movie its tagline would read “the waiting place.” Lines can go on for miles, but are you surprised? You’re in a major tourist spot. Sure they can be annoying at times, particularly when you’re late for work, but being patient and able to roll with the punches ensures that you won’t be angry every single day.

A sense of adventure

Coney Island? That's always in the budget!
Fun things are at every corner. With so many stores, parks and entertainment, there is something for everybody. Never should you say you are bored. Boredom doesn’t live, visit or exist here. Channel your inner explorer, grab your monthly MetroCard (it’s cheaper than paying every way), hit the subway and go. BUT notice I didn’t say there’s something safe at every corner. Right along with your adventure sense, store your common sense. Quiet, dark, abandoned alleys at 3 a.m. are NOT fun.

Money managing skills

I quickly realized that the best thing about NYC is the food. Food, food, food; I love food. But my wallet doesn’t necessarily agree with my love of food. I was super excited about landing a paid internship. My first paycheck arrived, but before I knew it a chunk of my money was gone thanks to take-out. My advice? Make a budget. Avoid cheap places like McDonald’s at all costs, but don’t eat at the fancy Thai place in Brooklyn every week and blow all of your money either. Plus, with stores like Trader Joe's and tons of quality street produce stands, it’s super easy to make gourmet meals in your apartment for the low.


While you may not always be the sharpest tool in the shed, you can definitely be the hardest working person in the group. Hard work always beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard. It’s about being confident in your work. No one wants to work with an individual who isn’t proud to show off what they’ve done. It’s a sign of weakness and honestly, in this city, there is no room for weakness. Be who you are and own it well.


Curse Hollywood for creating movies about the city promising us that our dreams would instantly come true the moment we arrived here. This is one of the toughest cities to break through in any industry, let alone succeed. If you want to be among the best, you’re going to have to bring your best on a consistent basis. There are no instant successes and if you take failures too personally then you will never make it in this city. Take your failures, learn from them and let your passion keep you moving forward. You would not be here if you didn’t really want something. Keep that in perspective the next time something doesn’t go your way.

Written by Alexis Reliford, Northwestern State University, ESSENCE
Edited by Andy Zunz, University of Central Florida, Field & Stream

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