Published in Le Point Magazine’s Guide to Living in New York, Summer 2014 (originally in French)
Ten secrets to living in New York
- Leave any fashion bias at Customs on your way in. There’s a reason New Yorkers are fully equipped to face any and all kinds of weather. Heavy rainstorm? Follow their lead, and put your rain boots on. Nothing will peg you more as a tourist than attempting to jump over the gigantic puddles that have formed on every street corner in order to protect your sneakers. Same goes for the unsightly down jacket. Sure, you might swear you won’t be caught dead in one, but we’ll give you three winter days to change your mind.
- If the tall redhead paying for her salad in front of you looks suspiciously like Julianne Moore, it’s because it is Julianne Moore. The New Yorker’s only acceptable attitude: Keep going without so much as a raised eyebrow. Here, you are the star of your own movie (and you can always brag about it on Facebook later). However, if your hairstylist giddily announces that she literally bumped into Ryan Gosling on the street, you have every right to squeal. Because she started it, and because… Ryan Gosling.
- Speaking of hairstylists… don’t go back to the same salon if you left a not so great (less than 18%) tip last time. The boiling hot water during your shampoo will not be a coincidence.
- Forget about “la bise” (the kiss) and become a hugger. Starting with a tap on the back, bringing forward only the top half of your body, and turning your head to the side, you’ll be all set. The intensity of the hug is proportional to the degree of intimacy: One does not hug one’s best friend in the same way one would hug a mere acquaintance. But more importantly, never ever hug someone you have just met!
- Banish the phrase, “It’s expensive!” from your vocabulary. Yes, it’s expensive. Everything is in New York. Your rent will give you heart palpitations every time you think about it (and don’t ever calculate the yearly amount, for fear of a stroke). Just accept it, or move to Nebraska instead.
- You will soon receive an email from your cousin’s college friend’s sister, who has planned a trip to New York, and has realized that, “Wow, accommodation is not cheap!” Would you, by any chance, have any tips for her (hint, hint, an air mattress in your living room)? The only acceptable answer, so as to avoid running a hostel 300 days a year, is: “Of course I do. It’s called Airbnb!”
- Networking is the New Yorker’s religion (well, one of his/her religions), because, quite often, that’s how they'll find their next job. But don’t forget that it works both ways. If you have nothing to offer, or no contact to pony up, it’s unlikely you’ll see your new best friend again, even if you have exchanged business cards (get business cards printed!). But don’t worry, it’s not personal.
- No, the concert was not good, it was awesome. And the cupcake is not delicious, it is to die for. When a friend announces that she’s going to Barbados for the weekend, don’t say “great,” say "Oh my god, I’m soooooo jealous!" Bonus point if you can be heard from the other side of the coffee shop. Embrace the superlatives and you’ll see, life in New York is absolutely amazing.
- Leave the house dressed like Lady Gaga, sing your head off on the street, carry your pet rabbit in a stroller, just because. Going unnoticed is probably the worst thing that can happen to you in New York.
- It’s OK if you don’t know the restaurant your colleague is going on and on about. At press time, there are approximately 147 new “incredible, must-try restaurants” in New York. In six months, three-quarters of these will be long forgotten, and in a year’s time, they’ll be closed (one year in New York = ten years in the real world). If you find a place that you like, and at which you can get a table in under thirty minutes, keep it to yourself and quit obsessing over trying something new. In New York, the perfect is almost always the enemy of the good.