Since I came home Friday I have been to NYC twice. I’ve lived about 25 miles outside NYC most of my life, but as most people who live outside a big city will tell you, you rarely take advantage of living so close to such a place. In any case these trips into the the city have affected me differently for whatever reason.
On Saturday I went into China Town with my friends (because they all wish they were Asian) and even though it isn’t my favorite place in the city we still had a great day. We took the train into Newark Penn and then took the path all the way to the World Trade Center. It wasn’t until we pulled into the WTC platform that I realized I hadn’t seen ground zero in person and it has been 5 years since the attacks. I had been lucky enough to go to the WTC a few years before 2001, so seeing the giant hole in the ground where the towers once stood, I was struck by the sadness and suffering of it all over again. I was extremely aware of the fact that there is a difference between seeing it on TV and being right there and seeing it first hand. Then when we were in China Town we went to a mall that didn’t even look like a mall from the outside, but inside it was almost like being in another place (maybe somewhere in China? I’ve never been, so I can’t say). My friends perused different Asian stores and identified character from Anime and Manga that I had never even seen before, but such is the price you pay for having dorky friends (I kid of course). In any case, that is another reason why I love the city, hidden surprises. We also went to another store that can almost be described as an Asian Wal-Mart, it had all sorts of Asian foods and a huge selection of Asian dishware.
Today my mother and I went into the city to meet up with a college friend of hers at an Italian restaurant (La Giara if your ever by 34th and 3rd). For whatever reason at dinner I decided to try dishes that I wouldn’t normally go for at a restaurant. Something about the city makes you want to go out on a limb and try new things. So over the course of a few hours we chatted and I had the opportunity to hear some embarrassing stories about my mother and other random college memories.
The main reason I bring these things up is because for me it serves as a reality check. I don’t think I have been completely sheltered all my life, but being young and growing up in suburbia a bubble does exist. When I am down in VA at school I exist in my own little college bubble. Going to the city is a subtle reminder that there is a whole world out there and it is a lot different then what I think reality may be. It is easy to figure it all out when you live in the bubble, but once you take that step outside you realize these are real people who are living real lives. It is hard to put in words exactly the emotions because maybe it is one of those things that can only be experienced.
So while I may be learning in a college bubble and getting my degree, I will eventually be leaving it behind and going out into the world, and I couldn’t be more excited or more in awe of it all.
There is nothing like real world experiences because they add value and depth to learning and life. Heck, experience helps you figure out what those words even mean.