New York State of Mind

We can all agree that travelling is one of the best ways to discover different cultures and to practise languages, and (as most people do), i reeeeaaally love travelling. I’ve been travelling a lot over the last 15 years, that is since I’ve turned 18, and also had the chance and the luck to live in a few different European countries… but that’s a whole different story. As I’ve always travelled on a budget, I’ve mostly travelled around Italy and Europe, given that it is of course cheaper to get to a European capital city than it is to cross the ocean.

But when me and my sister graduated a few months apart, back in 2013, our uncle and auntie gave us the best gift: 8 days in New York! And that was a holiday I won’t ever forget.
My sister did a lot of research, and in a little more than a week we squeezed in all the important things to do and see, checking one place after the other off our list, emptying our pockets and filling our eyes.
But New York is not just the main sights: the Empire State Building, the Statue of Liberty, the Brooklyn Bridge or Central Park.

It’s the steamy manholes, and the yellow taxis and the fire escapes.
It’s the cute little squirrels in the parks.

It’s standing in line to get a slice of what many websites called ‘the best cheese cake in NY’ (and be cut in line by some annoying French tourists), or struggling to find a little hidden hamburger place that most tourists don’t know about, and feel, for an hour or so, like a real new yorker.
It’s the old lady you cross down the street who makes you wonder what it feels like to be born and raised in the Big Apple, and the nostalgia that takes over realising you’ll never really get an answer to that question.
It’s taking a very loooong walk only to see the Chelsea Hotel from the outside, while listening to Leonard Cohen’s song of the same name, and shed a few tears.
It’s the dirty subway, crowded with the most typical yet incredible crowd, where you can enjoy trying to tell apart tourists from locals.
For someone like me, who watches a bunch of movies and series, and so many of them set in the Big Apple, it is like being a part of something, like getting to know a completely new place but at the same time knowing it already, having some sort of connection to it that words fail to describe.

New York is a feeling. The feeling of freedom, and of being so small and so important all at once.

And believe me – and Frank Sinatra: it truly is the city that never sleeps.

Silvia Sardi, insegnante di inglese, francese e italiano per stranieri. Collabora con Centro studi Ad Maiora.