Empire State of Mind is more than a song by Jay-Z and Alicia Keys. Empire state of mind is a way of thinking. This summer, I had the chance to spend a week in New York City and it changed my life for the better.
I was offered the opportunity to go to New York, all-expense paid by my job Cengage. Of course, I jumped at the opportunity! Even though it was business related, just being in the NYC was an experience in itself.
When I landed at JFK airport I was overwhelmed with the enormous size of the city. My coworker and I took a 45-minute taxi ride to our Manhattan hotel. Once we got there I was in awe; the city was everything I imagined from what I’ve seen in movies and more.
The hotel was beautiful and had a clubhouse that had a view of the entire city, including the Empire State building. I was fortunate enough to have a hotel room on the highest floor! This was only the peak of what New York City had to offer.
My boss crafted a scavenger hunt around Manhattan and Soho. We had the opportunity to see Washington Square Park and the apartment building that “Friends” was based on. It was an amazing start to a revolutionary trip.
New York City had a lasting impact on me because of the individuals I met. We instantly clicked. Their spirits radiated, and it was exactly what I needed at the time. Most of us were first generation college students, so it was amazing to hear the success of others. Sometimes it can feel like you are the only one in your situation, but meeting others with similar stories takes away from the loneliness.
The last full day in New York was my coworker’s birthday and we celebrated at Time Square. When midnight hit, we sang to the top of our lungs and even had a good chunk of Time Square sing with us. It was definitely a memory that I will never forget.
When it came time to leave New York, it was hard to grasp that we were leaving the amazing city …because our planes was delayed. My flight was cancelled, so I had the pleasure of spending
another night in New York. This is where things got interesting. I had to get a completely different hotel, which was a blessing in disguise
It was like something off of a movie. I went to sleep on a comfy, king-sized bed. The next morning, I woke and instantly thought that I should take some time to explore Harlem.
So that’s what I did. I checked out, stored my luggage, and hailed a cab out to Harlem. The cab dropped me off at the Cotton Club and I walked down Harlem. I walked up hills, through a park and down cozy streets.
I wanted to be where the culture was diverse and beautiful, and Harlem was perfect for that. Harlem has an amazing African-American museum, which hosts artwork from African American artists. One piece that stood out was a rollercoaster made of wood with LED lights as the rails. The reason that this piece stood out was the image of the artist laying on a wooden platform at the end of the rollercoaster.
I never wanted to leave the city. I came to New York thinking that seminars would consume the entire trip, but I was wrong. The knowledge I gained from meeting my managers and coworkers captivated me. I left New York fueled, ready to return to Texas Southern University focused. “Empire State of Mind” is realizing that when you change the way you think and set yourself apart, you can go anywhere.
During my time in NYC ,I kept thinking of the quote, “Oh, the places you’ll go.” Leading up to my trip, I had a year filled with many bumps and hurdles. I felt like I was at rock bottom. But, the good thing about rock bottom is that the only way is up! So my question is, where are you going next?