From the Farm to the City: Moving to NYC
I'm standing in my heels, handbag on one arm and business folder clutched in the other. I'm about to pitch to a client - a well-known property group in Dubai who are recruiting for a Digital Marketing Manager. I've been living and working in Dubai for the last month, and I'm really enjoying it. Moving back to NYC was something I'd considered, but I'm glad I decided to explore the unknown.
Many of you have been asking, so over the next few weeks I will be doing a three part series of my story - leaving New Zealand and moving to Melbourne, followed by New York, London and Dubai. How I moved, the struggles I faced and what I learnt.
Photos captured in Dubai Marina, and DIFC by Dipesh Kotwani (@dipesh.kotwani). For today's office look, I'm looking retro chic in a dress from a London Op-Shop, Versace sunglasses, Faith heels, Ted Baker handbag and Michael Kors watch (look is linked below). Nails and hair styled by Caractere, Motor City (@Caracteresalon).
PART ONE - MOVING TO NEW YORK CITY:
I grew up on a small farm in Darfield, Canterbury, New Zealand. I had many animals growing up: dogs, sheep, cows, chickens, goats, pigeons, fish, guinea pigs, rabbits... We even had a tiger worm farm once! New Zealand was a fantastic place for my childhood - weekends were spent zooming around farms on motorbikes, water skiing on Lake Lyndon or skiing Mount Hutt.
I graduated in 2014 with a Bachelor in Speech - Language Pathology and had NO IDEA what I wanted to do. So I decided to take a year off, relocate to Melbourne and work as a waitress. I admire anyone who works in the service industry as it is TOUGH! Most nights I'd clean tables and polish cutlery until 2 am.
After four months of living in Melbourne feeling lost and struggling to get a new job, I heard about the J1 visa through IEP for Aussies and Kiwis to travel for one year to America. But here's the catch - you have to go within the year after you finish University. I went from having zero aspirations to one thousand! I HAD to move to NYC! My friends and family thought I was nuts, "What will you do for a job? Where will you live? Will you be okay?!"
As I was living paycheck to paycheck, I took on another job as a Nanny and doubled my waitressing shifts. I started working 80 hour weeks. The J1 visa costs around $1k, and order to be eligible; I needed to flights to NYC, return flights booked for a year later, full insurance and $2k saved in my bank account. And I was going to do it all in eight weeks.
Miraculously, everything fell into place. My passport and visa arrived the day before my flight. And this little, 21-year-old ginge boarded the plane excited and nervous for a new adventure.
After arriving at JFK airport, I navigated my way via Subway to the Upper West Side. As I dragged my single suitcase towards my hostel, knowing it was just me, myself and I in this huge city, I will never forget the incredible determination felt at that moment.
As soon as I got to my hostel it was on - I needed a job and an apartment pronto. I found a sublease for one month staying with Lindsay and Lindsey and moved in two days later to East Village. I searched on Gumtree and went to open interviews with restaurants and cafes, dropping copies of my CV everywhere. I had a job in two days. The best part about working as a 'server' in NYC is the tips - I was earning around $30 per hour on a good day.
It wasn't all smooth sailing: I was scared at times when I first started living in New York, especially when I ventured to Brooklyn. Accustomed to the constant noise, when I stayed in New Jersey the silence would make my ears ring. When walking in Manhattan, at least ten men would whistle at me (inappropriately) within ten blocks. Bars and apartments were small which made me feel claustrophobic, and the homelessness made me feel so sad.
People say that a bad day in New York is better than a good day anywhere else, and I would agree. New York is a melting pot of crazy - flash dance parties in The Subway and eccentric people from all over the world.
There is an energy in the air, and among the people, unlike anywhere else I've lived. Holidays are taken very seriously - for Halloween, pumpkins scattered the city, and everyone walked the streets in costumes. Whether you are having a rooftop drink at PH-D Lounge, Le Bain or in an iconic Speak Easy in LES, you could make friends within seconds.
WHAT I LEARNT
Knowing that I could only stay for one year was hard, not only as I felt an intense love for the city and it's craziness, but because I felt in limbo. As I was earning good money from waitressing, I decided to keep at it and study real estate on the side. Rather than go out all the time like some of my Swedish friends; reading business books and planning for a move to London the following year kept me motivated. I'd always been very social and had constantly wanted to be with people, but New York was when I discovered how to be alone.
In Melbourne, I realised having no short term aspirations, to put it bluntly, sucked. It's the short term goals that help us achieve our long-term focus and whether it's deciding to start yoga, running your first 10km race or saving for a camera - it keeps us on track.
You don't need as much money as you think to move country! I moved with $4k in the bank. After paying the first month's rent and bond, I knew I had to hustle as soon as I got there. Don't be a job snob, just get a job.
I am responsible for my happiness. Even if **** hit the fan, and I felt alone and miserable; as soon as I was proactive and doing something towards the situation I felt instantly better. If you aren't happy with your life, change it.
It's hard being a new grad in the real world! But it's important to remember your IQ, technical skills and training will only get you so far. It's guts and hard work that get you further.
Hope you enjoyed part one? Next week, join me as I move to London! Special thanks to Dipesh Kotwani (follow him @dipesh.kotwani to see his amazing photography) and Caractere Salon Group at Motor City for my hair and nails.
If you have any questions about moving to America you can email (firstname.lastname@example.org) and I'll do my best to help - I love to hear from you!
If you liked this be sure to check out my career section.
Until next time,
Briar Prestidge xx
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