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I think that there are a lot of common misconceptions about New York from people who have never even been there. A couple of weeks ago I fulfilled my lifelong dream of traveling to New York and it was nothing like I expected. Leading up to the trip everyone was talking about how dirty it is, how expensive it is, and how the rats are gigantic. I didn’t really hear a lot of positive things about New York, and it was bumming me out right before going to a place I’d always dreamt about going to.

But, when I got there, I quickly realized how untrue most of these stereotypes were. Some areas of the city are dirtier than others, mostly because trash cans are not a thing there. The garbage bags are placed on the sidewalk for the trash people to come and grab. And this issue tends to present itself more in the cheaper areas of the city. Most of Manhattan doesn’t have this problem, and I actually found the Bronx to be the cleanest, and nicest, out of all the boroughs. A few subway stops are on the dirty side, but New York does have a large homeless population, most of which make these subway stops their dwellings.  [bf_image id="shcspg4tz3tbfn42f9wghx3"]

Another misconception is how expensive everything is. The key to sticking to a budget is eating at little hole-in-the-wall places and avoiding big restaurants. The restaurants are about as expensive as they are here in California, maybe a little more so, but nothing too extreme. But these small pizza places, fry places, and other small locations have fantastic food at a fair cost. The one thing I would say to avoid at all costs if traveling to New York on a budget is drinking alcohol. The cocktails at the restaurants and bars are insanely overpriced, and if I’m being honest, they weren’t even that good. A lot of these places also claim they have a full bar, but that isn’t really true. So be on the lookout.

And then that stereotype about the rats being huge; my coworker kept telling me to enjoy the rats in New York because they’ll be as big as dogs and all that terrible stuff. But when I went, I saw two rats on the very first day, at one of the subway stops, and they were no bigger than the ones we see in the pet store. I kept waiting to see more rats because that was a stereotype that I had ingrained in my head, but they really aren’t as big of a problem as I thought they were going to be.  [bf_image id="rt5nm6pwkst7r39ggf38z53"]

The one thing that was a bigger problem than I thought was the homeless population. I thought being from LA that I would be able to handle it in New York, but over there, things are different. The homeless are relentless and aggressive. They get far too close and they pester you until you acknowledge them or give them money. The only time I felt unsafe while traveling there was when there was a homeless person pestering me for something. While none of them would actually touch me, the fact that they were way too close was a bit much for me.

But outside of that, the city is amazing. There are so many things to do, and I think my favorite was going to the biggest Barnes and Noble. It felt like a dream in there. I also loved walking through Central Park, and even riding the subways. Being there felt natural. I’m sure my best friend, who I traveled with, would disagree and say I was on edge the entire time, but I’m always on edge here too so I didn’t notice a difference. [bf_image id="7623jcqh66jccwvgh33qh7"]

And one thing that surprised me while I was there was just how much I fell in love with the Bronx. I haven’t always heard the best things about it, but right away I felt like I was in my element. Fordham University is in the Bronx and the campus is absolutely beautiful. I actually fell so in love with it that I am now looking into going there for grad school! Once you walk a little bit away from the university and the center of the Bronx, you enter into smaller, quieter communities, with really nice people and really great restaurants. If you ever go to New York, I one hundred percent recommend going to the Bronx and seeing what it has to offer.

There are a lot of things that surprised me about New York but in the best way. I fell in love with the city, just like I knew I would, and I cannot wait to move there. That’s actually why I went, even during a pandemic, to see if I could live there someday. Once I graduate, I’ll hopefully be taking off there and I can’t wait to see what else New York has to offer.

Alexia Lee

Cal Lutheran '21

Alexia Lee is the Social Media Director for Her Campus at Cal Lutheran. She is a senior majoring in English with a minor in Creative Writing. She absolutely loves reading and writing, which she finds herself doing a lot in her free time. If she isn’t doing either, she can be found waltzing around Universal Studio’s Harry Potter World in her Ravenclaw robe, at the beach working on her tan, or daydreaming about where her travels will take her next.
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