Introducing Foreign Correspondent: a regular feature where The Print asks QM students studying around the world to send dispatches detailing their home from home. This week Priyanka Pau takes a bite out of the Big Apple
The best part of New York is the food – I am exploring the city through its various cuisines and loving every tasty minute of the day.
I recently went to the Williamsburg Smorgasburg in Brooklyn which is a food festival where people set up tents and sell food ready to eat. I sampled cuisines from all over the world – dosa from India, spinach pie from Greece, aubergine goodness from Morocco and various American foods including butter cake, truffle macaroni cheese, and a red velvet chocolate chip waffle. Dosas are a savory pancake with a curry filling and are usually accompanied by various chutneys. This was especially difficult to consume because the pancake is thin like paper and refused to be cut properly so I had to rip it and get my hands dirty. The butter cake was beautiful – it was the consistency of a gooey brownie and despite having chocolate in it, it perfectly captured the buttery taste.
It was such a good day and we ate for about eight hours straight and then went to Macy’s afterwards for some late night shopping. I still can’t get over the fact it’s on my doorstep. I followed that up with a visit to the Italian festival of San Gerrano, which was originally a one-day religious event that began in September 1926 when immigrants from Naples congregated in the Little Italy section of New York City. Here I indulged my love of food even more by having proper Italian pizza and pasta as well as an American abomination – the fried Oreo! It was as horrible as it sounded – sweet yet dry and had a cake texture that made me want to apologize to my arteries for putting them through it.
This has, however, taught me two things: I need to eat more food from the rest of the world, and, food here is expensive. In fact, everything here is expensive. The price of living in New York is two and a half times the national average, and as someone who previously lived in London, it is more expensive here. It is easy to get duped into thinking that it is cheaper in New York because of the fantastic exchange rate, which is $1.6 to the pound, but the cost of living is more. Despite all of this, The Big Apple is a prime example of ‘you get what you pay for’, and every new day brings a priceless experience.
Hunter College (the university that I am studying at) is a commuter college, which reduces the social aspect as you tend to talk to people in class and then leave not seeing them until your next class, which can be a couple of days to the next week to a week later. I had a rare conversation with someone outside class one day and he agreed, telling me that life in New York is sometimes very lonely and that that’s why everyone has dogs. Even though everyone is very warm and welcoming, it can still feel isolated at times. Having said that, people here are quite forward in the way they approach you and compliments get dished out on a daily basis because of my accent, which is doing wonders for my ego. There are also societies and groups that you can join, as well as a few sororities and fraternities that welcome transfer students, but the fact that they meet at Hunter during college hours often makes it feel like extracurricular activities at school.
My dorm is completely different to halls at Queen Mary; it’s a 1920s Art Deco hotel that has a select few floors that are dedicated to student accommodation. On walking into the hotel lobby when I moved in, I was blown away. At fourty floors high, it is very much part of the New York skyline. It is a five minute walk away from the Empire State Building, and Madison Square Garden is right across the road, which is something that I still can’t believe. The accommodation itself is also very nice – I have a large double room that I share with another girl and everyone uses a communal kitchen, gym and recreation room. Each floor has its own Resident Advisor, who is a student that works for the dorm, and they are here to look after us if we have any problems. This is my favourite part of living here because the people are so nice and the dorm organises trips for us to places that would be hard to get into normally.
Finally, it wouldn’t be a proper report on the US without a visit to a ball game. I went to a Yankees game and bought a bucket of popcorn for £8 (ouch) but it was worth every penny and people’s admiration of it actually won me a few friends. The stadium was huge and the patriotism was palpable. Conversations were stopped midway as the national anthem started and everyone stood up holding their baseball caps to their hearts. Derek Jeter, the captain of the team, was playing one of his final games and the support for him was impressive – every time he came up to bat, all that could be heard were chants of his name and motivational music.
To hear more about Priyanka’s time in New York then visit her blog ihavelearntsomethingnewtoday. wordpress.com
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