30 November 2012

Getting to New York City - The long way

Three years ago in late 2009 I remember daydreaming about what I wanted to do with my life once I had finished my University degree. I was 21 at the time, living out of home, tackling my third year of a four year University degree, and working part-time as a software developer (full-time on holiday periods) . Life was good, but as is my nature I would frequently dream of how I'd like the future to be, with 'where do I want to live' being one of my favourite topics to ponder.

I remember I had my choices of 'where to live' narrowed down to either by a beach (not sure which country), or New York City. The beach is an obvious choice... I mean, how cool would it be to have a beach within walking distance from your house (or better yet, viewing distance) to enjoy those summer days and nights with friends. And New York City... well, perhaps I had simply watched far too many episodes of the TV shows 'Friends' and 'How I Met Your Mother', but it appealed to me greatly and felt like a place I would want to be in someday.

Little did I know where this kind of daydreaming may lead me some day.

The following year, 2010, I was extremely busy having embarked on my Honours year at University. It was challenging and demanding, and a constant reminder that the following year would be the first time in my life where I wouldn't be tied down by my studies.

Throughout the year I'd constantly think back to my 'where to live' idea, with New York City sounding more and more alluring every time.

I've never been one for excuses as to why I can't do something, so when debating my own proposal to make the move to New York City a reality rather than a fruitless dream... well, I couldn't think of a reason not to really. What did I have to lose? Well... a hell of a lot really, but whatever, I was sure the potential rewards would far outweigh any negatives!.. in theory at least, and it really came down to one simple, although difficult to answer question: am I even capable of actually doing it? To quit my job, leave my home, my family and friends, and for an extended amount of time live in a foreign country?

I'd oscillate between 'supreme confidence' to 'turtle shell cowardice' within a matter of minutes.

"If you can make it in New York City, you can make it anywhere" - Someone

By early 2011 my University degree was now complete and I had gone straight into full-time hours at my software development job. The workplace was great... but wow was I bored. Sitting at a desk Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm is not my ideal of a 'good life', and it was during those long hours that I would research into what this crazy idea of mine would actually involve.

For starters, could I get a Visa? How do I get there? How much does it cost? Despite all the unknown I knew that whatever the costs or risks were, there was simply no reason not to go.

And that my friends sealed my fate, and in March 2011 I had officially decided that in one year from that moment I was to head off and tackle my grandest idea yet, to live and work in New York City.

I used to have this picture up on my bedroom wall to remind me everyday
The preparations took an entire year. I trained quite hard physically every week, building my strength and cardio in the hope that I could cope more easily with carrying bags, long walks, and reduce the chance of getting injured or sick. My mental preparation was the toughest to accomplish, whilst at the same time the easiest; it is easy to prepare for something when you live in a constant state of denial ha, although there were plenty of moments where I started to question what I was getting myself into. And the logistics weren't too bad I guess, such as applying for Visa's, flight tickets, buying equipment and so on... but when you are as lazy as I it can be quite intense.
I only got my Visa approved a month before the leaving date, for example...

And the plan? Ha! What plan? My plan consisted of two variables.

1. I hate long plane flights. I get headaches, time stands still, and I seem to have the worst luck with whom I get sat next to.

2. New York City is the ultimate goal.

So 'the plan' was to avoid the 20 hour flight from Sydney, Australia to New York, America by landing in Los Angeles instead, where I would chill out, get my bearings, then head off to New York City at my leisure a week or so later, and on March 22nd 2012, exactly one year after first making this idea official, I boarded a flight from Sydney, Australia to do just that!

Although as we now know, this is of course is not how it turned out in the slightest! The 'one week stay' in Los Angeles somehow turned into six weeks, and by month eight of my trip I was at that moment in Vancouver, Canada, still not having stepped foot out of the West coast of America in the slightest... ha!

Where had the last 8 months gone? Why was I still not in New York City yet? Was it not a priority anymore? Of course it was still a priority, but when you are traveling alone without an itinerary, you don't know anyone, and you don't having the slightest idea on what you are doing, then you kind of just go with the flow, and it appears that my flow was to head North along the West coast at glacial speeds.

Come November, my instincts were telling me that it was time to move on was more, so on November 19th I finally set out to achieve the dream of this entire trip and I boarded a flight from Seattle, Washington bound to New York City.

A six hour flight later (where upon I got sat next to a guy who was nearly as large as the airplane itself... bah!) I had touched down at JFK airport! This was followed by a three hour 'sight seeing' tour of the subway (I got terribly lost... by the time I emerged above ground again it was dark outside!), a long hunt for my hostel (it was a house with no sign on the front door), a very welcomed unloading of my bags, battles with jet-lag, to conclude it all with a walk outside which is what I have just returned from only moments ago.

I've done it, I'm here!  And wow it is so terribly surreal, while at the same time I awash with the great sense of self-pride that I have ever felt before, for after 2 years of dreaming of it, 1 year of planning for it, and 8 months of traveling towards it, I have finally accomplished it all and have stepped foot in New York City!

An uneventful and poor quality photo... but significant as it represents my first ever photo I took in NYC


Tom said...

The only place I would live other than London is NYC. I actually would LOVE to live in New York for a period in my life, perhaps even forever! Very jealous of you dude and enjoy it for the both of us!

Azz said...

Thanks Tom! It is such a magical place, and the best is still to come. Although you have just put in a pretty good word for London, so I will have to get myself there someday soon too.

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