Full of hope and energy, topped up with anxiety and nervousness, I set foot in the "Land of Opportunity". It was a morning in the fall of 2016 at JFK airport. The first challenge to encounter was how to get to the apartment I had rented in Brooklyn. It was not that difficult since I had googled and learned how to use Uber. During the ride, I tried to feel the nature of the surroundings, but it did not seem like the busy and lively New York as I imagined. Then I remembered, it was only 6:30 in the morning and I should have no doubt that the city of nightlife was still quiet.
I finally arrived in front of my apartment. As I observed around the neighborhood, a man next door waved at me and said hello. That really warmed my heart. I waved back and said “hi”, thinking to myself, "It's a good start". When I got into my room, it turned out to be bigger than my room in my home country, so I was satisfied. I started to unpack and it took me nearly 5 hours to clean up and put my stuff in place. After that, I needed to set up a phone to get access to the internet, so I went out to find a mobile store. Luckily, there was a T-Mobile store three blocks away from my place. It was stressful for me to communicate in English, so I thought ahead of what I was going to say and then I went into the store. It was really hard for me to catch different accents. However, I managed to set up my phone eventually after a lot of "excuse me" and "I beg your pardon". When I looked at my phone lock screen, the clock already struck two and I could hear my tummy growling. To solve my tummy problem, I searched in my newly set-up mobile for a nice restaurant for brunch. I felt like trying out some Italian food and exploring the city, so I picked a place where I got to use the NYC subway.
I always wanted to experience the street music and dance of the subway which I have seen in movies. Being happy and excited, I hopped on the train which Google was showing me to take and the 7th stop would be my transit to change to another train. That was where my struggling started, as the second train was under renovation. I was stuck in the transit station as my Google showed no other way around and I did not know who to ask. I could ask someone, but I was still getting over my last communication failure, so I decided to work it out for myself. After half hour of wandering around, I saw my train number with the sign 'Downtown' over it and I got into the train really quick with joy. As the train went one stop after another and I kept hearing the familiar station names, I started to doubt if I was taking the right train. What a bad day! I was on the train back to Brooklyn.
By the time I went out of the station, it was already dinner time. I thought positively that I could save up by having only one meal for today. I went in to eat in the very first restaurant I saw and it was a Vietnamese restaurant. I ordered a pho with beef brisket and it was pretty delicious for my empty stomach. When I was about to leave after paying my bill, a man who seemed to be the manager of the restaurant came to me and asked if there was any inconvenience with their service. I replied him "No, the service was really great, thank you." I found out later from my friend that it might be because I did not pay the tip. I felt sorry as well as embarrassed.
This was all about my first day of exploring the new city. When I was back in my apartment that night, I remembered my legs were begging me to take a rest after the long-haul flight and the tiring day. I fell asleep wondering if I could ever adapt to this new environment. It has been a year now. Trust me, you will blend in happily before you know it. It is only a matter of time.