IT IS AMAZING HOW THE CITY CAN CHANGE YOU (obviously much more than how you can change the city). I went from a ‘kampung’ (village) boy to city dweller within days of transformation. To survive in the city, you need to walk fast, and I mean real fast. Don’t think too much, move move move! Not just pacing faster, you need to up your horsepower and develop a speedy momentum, or you’ll be bombarded with curses that you’ll never want to hear. You can smile, you can socialize, but keep it to a minimum. You do not want the extra attention and when people know that you’re not local, bad consequences may occur. (This is especially true in many of the troubled neighborhoods, one friend even advised me to stay in the subway train on my tour of South Bronx).
*** MEDICAL ALERT ***
LIVING IN THE CITY where there’s millions of people has its advantages to a medical student. With the diverse and wide population, it is not that hard to meet with the rare cases. And if you’re in a great medical center like Cornell, it’s even easier to spot a bunch because all the specialists are here.
In the Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis clinic, I got to see my first, second and third cases of JRA in one single morning. This disease is not common, and it is almost always referred to a specialist and we often don’t get to see them. It is sad that these kids have to live with all that pain. But, with improvements in medicine, I hope they can all lead near normal lives.
*** END OF MEDICAL ALERT ***
CITY LIFE CAN BE VERY PRICEY, and you’ll have to learn a way to limit your expenses. I went walking down Chinatown and found this ‘Brazil’ barber shop. They have quite a few inexpensive barbers around the block and I got interested in this one. I am image conscious most of the time, but considering my very limited budget, it pays to focus on inner beauty instead once in a while. The shop is very old, and they said they were in business for over thirty long years. For merely $5 plus tips, I got a quite decent haircut in 10 minutes. It was better than what I anticipated, and with that extra money, I can splurge myself with a Broadway or a candlelit dinner, right? There are noisy old folks playing Mahjong at the rear end of the shop, and I guess this place serves as a social gathering place for the Chinese immigrants too.
Another way of surviving is to remain healthy and fit for all challenges (it saves you lots of money and time too). For this, they have Whole Foods, which is like a giant health store, selling all sorts of healthy organic stuff. If you want drinks, they have endless organic choices, if you’re looking for cheese, they have more types of cheese than you can pronounce. I even saw organic clothes and safe cookware in there. It is amazing how far people can go to stay fit.
Nancy recommended the Brownies and I got them so that I can share with my homestays. I bought some ORGANIC chips to go along with the babaganoush (which is an eggplant creamy thing), and a healthy cola for my thirst.
WHILE I WAS SITTING IN THE SUBWAY TRAIN, I fell asleep. But luckily, I woke up immediately at my stop. I know now that I’m so adapted to the city life, my subconscious knows how to wake up at all the right stops.