What I learned from New York City

New York - the city of big dreams and hopes.

Where Alicia sings "where dreams are made of... there's nothing you can't do..."
and Frank sang "if I can make it there, I can make it anywhere...".
I have to say, it's true what they sing but it's not an easy thing to do - starting a new life with two kids in an expensive and fast paced city like New York. But without realizing it, we crossed the one year mark and I couldn't help but wonder what I have learned from New York...

'Own your story'

The first difference I became aware of, was that people in other countries or cities always asked me, "where are you from?". Not here - in New York City they start with Hello, their name and a nod or handshake. Maybe you would get a "nice to meet you", which quickly is followed by "what do you do?". New Yorkers don't have time to hear you say 'eh...' when they ask you this. It's not to be rude - it's simply the way things work here. After all, we are in a city of nine million people and they have seen and heard it all before...

New Yorkers are moving fast and connections are made literally everywhere. You never know who you can connect with, either on a work base or to become friends. It's all about making the right connections. So stand your ground and know what you are planning to say about your work/life/future plans. Think of it as an elevator pitch - it's simply a good way to start conversations that go beyond the weather of the day. Since I always am myself, this was not so easy for me to do. I literally had to learn how to introduce myself in the shorter New York way, instead of my usual (read: way too long) chatty introduction.

Own your story - it sounds easy and simple, right?

Once I started using this method of introducing myself, I also realized what I really wanted to say and write. It also encouraged me to 'move forward' and to not be apologetic about our lifestyle. Yes, it's not a 'normal' or common lifestyle for sure (what is normal anyway?), but it is our way of living life for the past fifteen years. So that makes it our normal. By owning this part and sharing it more with others, people where asking me even more things about our way of living (believe me, it's not that glamorous) and how we made the choices to change our lives upside down - again and again.

"Own it, be proud of what you have achieved, share it and be inspiring while doing this" - inspiring words I got from my Dutch New York friend Nancy, who went through the same rite of passage when she arrived. So I listen and learn.

I also learned:

*how to navigate myself in a full and smelly subway car...

*what to do when four different people ask you for money before you reach the next block...

*how to get a rental apartment for four people in a harsh real estate market...

*and what to do when you get lost...

But let's save all these for another time!

So yes - Thank You New York! It's been a rollercoaster of a first year, but I wouldn't have it any other way.