Wanderwoman Diaries: Conquering the Concrete Jungle
This week, we take a trip back to my hometown and one of my favorite cities in the world, New York. I had the lovely pleasure of speaking with my good friend and wanderwoman extraordinaire, Miriam. So many people I meet in Paris and around the world always ask me about NYC life and living. Thought it would be great to hear it from someone who moved here, as an expat’s experience is different from someone who grew up here. So, let’s hear more about living in the concrete jungle from someone who has chosen to make NYC her home.
Miriam Spritzer, like the drink
USA - well, NY, because it is it's own thing, right?
Where else have you lived?
I have lived in the USA 3 times before coming to New York. When I was in high school I did an exchange program in California, then during university I interned at a company in Pennsylvania twice. Also there was a brief period of time (near 5 months) that I was backpacking in Australia after university - but not sure that qualifies as living there, though.
What countries have you visited?
Oh, the list is long, I had my first passport when I was 3 years old. But I am far from being done with my "To Visit" list.
What brought you to NY?
New York has always been my dream, really. I came to the city the first time when I was 13 and felt in love with it. The buzz, the energy and most importantly the cultural life. Many trips to NY later, I came back for graduate school and found a new career as a journalist writing and showing the very same things that made me fall in love with the city all those years ago. Couldn't have planned it better!
What is your favorite thing about living here?
Now that I live here, I would say that I love the diversity in the city. Everyone has a story I find that it is one of the best places to be an expat. I love that you never know what to expect, who you might meet and where you might end up at.
What is your least favorite thing about living here?
New York is not an easy city (which is good and bad), but many things in the city push you away. Wonderful and awful things happen at the same time. I have a phrase I usually say to my friends when they arrive "Be careful, New York punches in the stomach and gives you a kiss in the face at the same time. So you never know how you should feel". It's a competitive city and you are just another person trying to make it here, or find an apartment in the city, or just get into a club. Also, it's a place where a lot of people are not planing to stay, so there were many goodbyes here as well.
What country would like to live in or visit next?
I love living in New York, and for now I couldn't imagine living somewhere else. But of course I wouldn't complain on spending a few months studying art in Italy, spending more time exploring in France and London is always on that list as well. What I have been doing more lately is taking work projects that allow me to spend time in one place so you get a little bit of the living experience. I have done that in Israel, Spain and Portugal. I think when you are a wanderer, there is always that curiosity what life would be like in a different city, so I think that is always the why.
As far as the visits go, my list is never-ending. From the places I want to go and the places I want to repeat, It would take me pages, so let's focus on the more short term goals. Two continents I had a taste but haven't explored much is Asia and Africa, so I am hoping my next big travels will be around these areas.
What fuels your wanderlust? Inspires you?
Curiosity? It's a hard thing to put on words. I love traveling, seeing new places, meeting new people, learning new cultures, history and experiencing things. I always loved the unknown, that excitement of being completely outside your comfort zone. But I also love the growing experience. When you arrive in a new city/country that you have never been, you don't know how to move around nor speak the language and you have to figure it out just by being there. By the time you leave that place is no longer that strange or complicated. That feeling is empowering and maybe addictive. I also love that I meet people from different backgrounds and experiences, and a lot of the times adds another country or city to the "to visit" list.
What advice would you give to fellow travelers/expats?
Be open, be curious and whether it's good or bad be present because it is only temporary. I think that is the motto to live by, especially when you are an expat or traveler. When we are open and curious life can take us to places, people and situations it wouldn't have otherwise. If you are stuck on a guide book or in your ways, you might miss out on hanging out with a Turkish pop singer in Istambul (that actually happened when I was there in 2007). If you are not curious, you won't hear the stories the places and people have and that makes your travels much more rich and meaningful. And finally, be present: live the moment, enjoy it, savor it, you only see and experience a place for the first time once. And even when things are bad or go wrong on a trip, it can always end up being a great story in the end.