|After living the New York city lifestyle for nearly four years, I get a sense of culture shock when I visit the burbs.|
During my college years, I was fortunate enough to be able to travel to several different countries. From Austria to Egypt, I never felt overwhelmed or out of place when immersing myself in those cultures, learning the languages, and interacting with the locals. So I’m not sure if it’s because I’ve been living the New York City lifestyle for nearly four years (and this place is basically a world of its own), but now there is one place where I do get a sense of culture shock – the suburbs. After spending a month visiting my parents on the West Coast over the holidays, here are the aspects of suburbia that I can’t get used to anymore.
I remember when I was in high school, it was all about getting your first car. Once I moved to London for college, however, I realized that having a car and needing to drive everywhere is a total pain in the ass. I much prefer living in a city stocked with cabs and a 24-hour public transportation system. That alone eliminates the hassle of car insurance, gas prices, and the need for designated drivers during nights out on the town.
And jaywalking? Forget about it. A friend of mine received a ticket for stepping one foot off the curb when there was a red light at the crosswalk. In the city, we cross the street even if there’s oncoming traffic. So it drives me insane to have to wait for a green light – especially when no cars are in sight.
Everything closes earlier.
In Bellevue, a suburb of Seattle, the Rite Aid by my parents’ house closes at 8 p.m. and the bars close around 1 a.m. In New York, there are times when my friend Rae and I don’t even start our party nights until 2 a.m. Clearly, we live on the opposite end of suburbia’s clock.
|Since New York is a 24-hour city, sometimes I don’t start my night until 2 a.m.|
People love small talk.
I was recently standing in line at a Bellevue Safeway, when the woman behind me started talking about the Seahawks and the weather. I probably looked like an idiot as I blankly stared back, not realizing she was talking to me and looking for a response. A polite smile and head nod were about all I could muster up, since in the city, people generally don’t do the whole “random small talk” thing with complete strangers. If anything, we never know what type of person we might be engaging. I learned that the hard way when I accidentally locked eyes with a man on the subway, which led to him cussing me out.
It’s hard to believe that I was once one of those teens who enjoyed hanging out at the mall, wearing sweatshirts with my last name and high school team logo on the back. For whatever reason, going to the mall now almost gives me anxiety. Living in cities like London and NYC has made me realize that “mall culture” is something that only exists in suburban America. Although it’s a bit inconvenient when the weather is bad, I prefer freestanding department stores (such as Bloomie’s, Barneys, or Bergdorf’s), and shopping individual boutiques along streets like Madison Avenue.
|I prefer freestanding department stores like Barneys to shopping malls.|
I’ll admit, I can’t stand being woken up by the sound of the Second Avenue subway construction or jackhammers coming from the redesigned building next door. But when night falls in suburbia, it’s too quiet for me. I’ve gotten used to the sound of cars driving by and the hum of air conditioning units – I actually find it to be relaxing. During the two instances when I heard a police siren in Bellevue, my first thought was “Aww, I miss New York.”
The slower pace.
Everything from working to walking seems much slower when I leave Manhattan. I love taking a break from the “Go! Go! Go!” lifestyle in NYC, but I can’t imagine permanently living that way anymore. There’s too much to accomplish and experience, and few suburbanites seem to understand that many of us city folk actually enjoy the quick tempo and pace.
Even when I was home for the holidays and working on a few deadlines, people annoyingly asked me, “Why are your working?!” Well, for one, I work for myself – so unless you want to write me a check for next month’s rent, I think the answer is pretty self-explanatory. Secondly, I can only sit around and do nothing for so long.
Fortunately, I’m back in New York where I can cross the street whenever I want, stay out until the wee hours of the morning, and I’m surrounded by people working just as hard (if not harder) than I am. Was my suburban vacation enjoyable? Absolutely. But I’m definitely a better fit for the big city.
|The big city is more my speed.