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How I Found a Home in the City

Linnea Arden: Now for the next in our commentary series. Emily Schutz talks about the challenges of moving to a new city.

Emily Schutz: I’ve never not lived in Florida. That is until 9 months ago when I moved here, to New York.

Back home, I’d spend my days at the beach or walking through the woodsy trails near my college campus. I didn’t realize how much Florida was the butt of many jokes until I moved away.

I wasn’t nervous about moving to New York, but I was concerned about fitting in. I didn’t want any person on the street to know that I wasn’t from here.

I think the need to blend in was triggered by TikTok. New York-based influencers would say things like “only real New Yorkers know.” Or “transplants walk too slowly.” It was all in good fun and not really harmful until I got] here, and I realized I felt out of place. I was afraid I”d stand out.

On the subway, I was too nervous to check Apple Maps in case the person next to me saw and figured it out. Asking for directions was out of the question. I remember one time, grabbing to the pole in the car for dear life when the train came to a sudden stop. I lost my balance, brushed against someone accidentally, and as a result was verbally abused by a random man. Lesson learned. No more stumbling when the train stops.

It’s not even that I necessarily wanted to identify as being a New Yorker. I just didn’t wanna be bullied by strangers for not being one.

But, I started to see the beauty of being someplace new. In Florida, we don’t have seasons. During my first autumn in New York, I saw the leaves change to bright red and then in the winter heard them crunch under my feet. I’d never even seen snow until I moved here nor had experienced temperatures below 45 degrees. I’m embarrassed to admit that for the first time, at 21 years old I got on the ground in Riverside Park and made a snow angel.

I grew accustomed to the hustle and bustle in the city and having access to anything and everything. I began to seek out all the things that make New York, New York. I walked across the Brooklyn Bridge, saw the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building, the World Trade Center. Picked up some Levain cookies, got tea at the Plaza Hotel (not worth it), and got drinks at a speakeasy.

Now I’m starting to see New York as my home. I’m more confident on the Subway now. I know where I’m going…most of the time. And if I don’t you’ll find me with my phone to the lowest brightness possible, checking which stop to get off. Some things never change, but I don’t feel like I’m pretending to know what I’m doing and where I’m going, anymore. I’m a New Yorker. All I had to do was give it some time.


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