Being in New York last week for a conference reminded me of how much I have a love/hate relationship with the city. On one hand the food, shopping, culture are amazing but on the other hand the city smells, there’s trash everywhere, and the people can be a little rough around the edges.

My experience living in NYC began after grad school, I moved there to pursue a job opportunity with, in my opinion, the greatest store in all of the world Saks Fifth Avenue. Through knowing the right people, I was accepted into their Executive Excellence Program Training Program. My coworkers were an interesting bunch but mostly young, rich, and White who had families well connected in the high-end retail industry.

At first living and working in the city took a little getting used to, especially the public transit system but I made it happen. I also lived in a somewhat sketchy neighborhood in Spanish Harlem, but I was okay with it because the people in my building were actually nice, the apartment was huge by NY standards and we had a balcony overlooking Central Park. In my apartment there were four girls and 1 (yes, ONE) bathroom, but we managed to never have a single problem. To this day, I still don’t know how I did it.

I was determined to stay there for a year to complete the program and see where I’d go from there. Working in Midtown across from Rockefeller Center during Christmas time was beautiful but the crowds were a nightmare. Tourists from all over the world spilled onto the sidewalks all day, everyday for nearly a month, making the 1 block walk from the bus stop a 15 minute hike. I was never really bothered by tourists until I lived here. Last week, my hotel was like 2 blocks from Times Square, thinking about the crowds still irks me.

Between my adventures of chasing an attempted mugger in sandals to get my friend’s Marc Jacobs bag back to having a mouse (and no I don’t mean Mickey) for a roommate, living in NYC was definitely an experience. I think in the long run it made me a better person and more aggressive. Living there you have to develop that New York State of Mind.

Much respect to my BFF from college and some of my other friends who’ve been there 5+ years. After all is said in done, I am glad to have had the opportunity to have lived there. Would I do it again? Definitely! I don’t have any regrets and the experience adds to the uniqueness I call my life.

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