After arriving in New York in late September, I am officially 6 months here.
How has it been settling into a new country? Settling into the US for me was easier as I had lived here for 3 months previous, although moving here more permanently is different. When you are on a summer visa your priority is having enough money to survive and have a good time, moving over indefinitely means the focus was on being comfortable and establishing a career and life for myself here.
It takes time to feel at home here, I’d honestly say I didn’t feel fully settled until after Christmas- everyone was telling me to be patient and at first, I didn’t believe them but they were right. You cannot expect to settle in a new country in a couple of weeks- it will take months. There has been huge highs and lows but my main piece of advice is, do not think you can do it all yourself and ask for help when you need it. Most people in New York have been in a similar position before so I had a lot of great advice on accommodation, finance and just the general basics you need coming into a new culture. Devoid of a family, your friends/roommate will become your support system.
Every day here I feel elation and privilege. I am incredibly lucky and grateful to be where I am and I pinch myself every day that I have been given this opportunity. I hope I never lose that feeling and never take this city for granted.The career opportunities I have been given here I know I would never have been given in Ireland.
From living in Ireland, France and the US I have an appreciation for different cultures and the knowledge that in meeting new people I will always be able to hold a conversation and be sensitive to their culture and differences.
There is always something to do in New York, and you will never feel bored or out of place. Despite the bad press the United States has received recently, I have found NY to be progressive and non-judgemental. I could wear the craziest most ‘out there’ outfit on the subway and no one would blind.
The hardest part will always be trying to maintain long distance relationships but most of my friends know that I will send them long voice messages on WhatsApp most weeks and that has worked best for us to keep on top of news. For family who may be asleep when I get time to text them I often write messages late at night and hit send when I wake up at 6am.
New York is one of the most expensive cities to live in, rent, food shops and of course the weekly trip to Zara make it very difficult to save money here. You will also work harder here than anywhere else. I feel inspired and driven to get up at 6am and work as hard as I can, because if you don’t there is someone else who will.
There is a phenomenon when you live in New York that I like to call the ‘New York guilt’. Every weekend that you don’t have plans or if you feel tired or hungover and want a duvet day it is not easy. You will kick yourself that you have wasted any time in this precious city and while staying in bed on a rainy Sunday in Dublin might sound appealing, over here you just feel like you may have wasted some amazing opportunity. I’m starting to get slightly better at this and giving myself a break and not being as hard on myself when I am wrecked because most days in this city are extremely tiring.
3 pieces of advice
1) Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there- I moved over to New York knowing one person and six months in I can say that I have a good group of friends around me. It won’t come easily or quickly and it might take you longer than you thought to settle in. Maybe sure you put yourself out there as much as possible. Network as much as you can- In the first few weeks I went to networking events every night and while they are scary at first, I made some of the best friends there. Learn to walk into a room knowing no one and feel confident in your abilities.
2) Reach out to the Irish community- if you find you are struggling to know where to start with networking then start with what you know. Every major city in the world has one if not multiple Irish networks. They are a great resource for both personal and professional development. Becoming vice- chair of the IIBN (Irish International Business Network) has opened a lot of doors for me.
3) Ask for help – No one expects you to know everything immediately or even within the first few months. I would definitely say to ask as many questions as possible, there is no such thing as a stupid question. When you are trying to get used to a new city, new job and new people the best thing you can do is get all your concerns out there.