Lessons Learned in NYC #3

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As I’m nearly at the end of my first full year here in New York, I figured now was as good a time as any to do another of these ‘Lessons Learned in NYC’ posts. Looking back at the first two I posted (here & here) have made me realize that SO much has happened in such a short space of time. I’ll be doing a full end-of-year recap post next week, but for now, here is a look at some more lessons this crazy but amazing city has taught me:

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1. Importance of Healthy Eating
When I moved here first, I literally lived on spaghetti & dairy milk chocolate. Ask the girls! I rarely cooked (besides spaghetti) and instead ate out ALL the time. This was all well & good at the start, but before long I just felt SO unhealthy. You never fully know what you’re eating when you don’t make it yourself. Added salt, sauces, etc…you just don’t know! I started to feel so tired, so something had to change. I think I’ve probably cooked more in the last 6 months than I have in my whole life – which is funny really because usually the opposite happens when people move to NY. Don’t get me wrong, I still love my sweet treats, but I’m now much more fussy when it comes to buying food each week. I still can’t get my head around the fact that when you buy eggs or milk here, their use-by-date is in like 3 weeks time!! After growing up in Ireland, this is NOT normal to me. Just makes me wonder exactly what they put into them. Living here has definitely been an eye-opener in relation to food.

2. Manners Matter
So my number 1, all-time pet peeve is when somebody doesn’t hold the door for you and wow, it happens A LOT here. I know this isn’t even the biggest deal in the world but I just find it so so weird when people don’t do it. It 100% doesn’t apply to everyone, but in the past year, I have witnessed it happen so much. I also find it funny how surprised people are when I hold the door for them. I know it’s a small thing, but when you live in a crazy city like New York where people are always stressed & on-the-go, small gestures like this can really make a difference.

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3. Weekend Trips
I’m pretty sure you’ve guessed by now that I have a huge love for New York City, but I’ve learned that in order to keep this love going, you need to get out of here every once & a while. Especially in the Summer. In the past few months, I’ve been lucky enough to visit Miami, the south of France, Cape Cod & The Hamptons and I’ve come back from each trip with a bigger love for NYC.

4. Friends
Of course, part of the reason these trips are so fun is due to the friends that are right there with me. I don’t even know where to start when explaining the importance of having good friends in New York. I talked a little about this before HERE & I’ll definitely go into more detail in my end-of-year post, but for now, just trust me when I say you won’t survive New York without a good network of friends. It’s crazy to think that I knew none of my NYC girls before I moved here – I now feel like I’ve known them my whole life!

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5. Flowers & Candles
You know when you’re younger and somebody used to buy your Mom or whoever flowers & candles and you always thought to yourself -how boring! Well… oh how times have changed. This may just be me, but I never really appreciated small gestures like this until I moved out on my own. My apartment here in New York is very small & basic, so a new candle or a fresh bunch of flowers can totally transform any of the rooms. It’s the little things.

6. The heat
There’s no way around it…Summer’s here are TOUGH. So much humidity, so much sweating & so much love for air-conditioners.

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7. Time is Money
If there’s one city in the world where there is NEVER enough time – it’s New York. I’m fully convinced time somehow goes faster here. No matter how early you go to bed or how early you wake up, there are just not enough hours in the day. So as a result, you need to be very clever with how you use it. Throughout the past few months, there are 2 simple services which have made my life a lot easier- Fresh Direct & Uber Pool. Food shopping in New York can honestly be the biggest pain. Ciara (my housemate) I have gone to Trader Joe’s in the past (a pretty inexpensive food store downtown) and have literally had to queue while we did our shopping because the queue goes the WHOLE way around the store. So one of us would stay in the queue while the other one literally runs to get stuff. I felt like I was on that TV show, Supermarket Sweep, haha! Stressful to say the least, so now I only ever use Fresh Direct. I choose everything online and they deliver it all right to my apartment door the next day, for about 5 dollars extra. I never thought I’d be one of those people, but honestly, it is a lifesaver!

And then lifesaver No.2 is Uber. Uber is basically a car service (similar to Hailo in Dublin) which you can book really easily through an app. I was always a big fan of it in Dublin and became even more obsessed over here. Moving to a new city is very expensive, to say the least, so I always found it hard to justify it. But thankfully, they recently introduced $10 Uber Pools everywhere – which is where you share the journey with somebody who is going in the same direction and it’s just $10 each, no matter what distance you’re traveling. So so handy….& you also get to meet with some very interesting people which I love! Really good way to make contacts and it makes the journey go so quick.

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8. Love What You Do
Every morning on my way to work, I always look at the crowds of people going into huge office buildings ready to begin their 9-5 and always wonder how many of them are ACTUALLY happy. New York is a draining city, so you really do have to love what you’re doing here. It just won’t work otherwise. Personally, I work full time during the week and then do Retro Flame in the evenings and at the weekends and although it gets extremely busy, seeing as I love what I’m doing, I never mind. New York teaches you about what it is you actually want & love to do.

9. Hustle Beats Talent
And on the topic of a busy schedule, let’s talk about my favourite lesson learned. The fact that even in New York City, hard work comes out on top every single time. I’ve always loved being a bit of an underdog. I love a good challenge and making career/blog progress in New York was always going to be a big one. There is A LOT of talented people here wanting to do just as well as everyone else so the only way to beat them is to work harder. Very simple but very true.

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10. Independence
Finally, if this year has taught me one main thing it’s that as scary as doing something on your own might be, it always works out in the end. (And if not, it’s not the end) I couldn’t even count all the emails I get from people asking for advice about moving here – where their main worry is the fact that they’ll be moving on their own. Yes it’s scary, but everything worthwhile is. I have always had so much respect for girls who put their own dreams & goals ahead of boyfriends, easy jobs and comfort. It’s something I won’t get into too much, but before I moved to New York, I was in a long-term (4 year) relationship. Moving here on my own was one of the weirdest & scariest things I have ever done but I knew that if I didn’t do it, it was always something I would regret. With the Graduate Visa, you only have a certain amount of time to obtain it, so it was a now or never type of situation. Timing is a tricky thing but you always have to go with your heart. If moving to New York or anywhere else is something you have ALWAYS wanted to do and is something you are genuinely passionate about, don’t let anybody or anything stop this from happening. It’s daunting, yes, but you’ll be so surprised at just how brave and able you will be. Everything happens for a reason.

Of course, there is a lot more to learn but I’m already very grateful for this much. For all things New York on a daily basis, feel free to follow along on Instagram (@retroflame) & Snapchat (@retroflame1).

Hope you’ve all had a great week!

Stylishly Yours,
Erika x


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  1. Julie Byrnes

    20 August

    From Ireland, graduating next Friday from UL, then moving to London the next day, without my family, bf, friends , everyone ???? Starting my job as a secondary school teacher. So nervous but this post has made me excited ????????❤️ Love this blog ????????????

  2. Aoife

    20 August

    Loved this post especially the part at the end encouraging girls to put their dreams ahead of boyfriends and to travel alone. Really encouraging stuff ????

  3. Charlotte

    20 August

    Great blog post delighted to see a fellow kerry girl doing so great over in the US. Really nice and encouraging to leave and follow your goals ☺

  4. Shay

    20 August

    I absolutely loved reading this!! It was so inspiring and motivated me to keep working and hustling towards my dream. I hope you’re having the best time of your life in beautiful NYC and I hope to one day live the dream of living in that beautiful city.

    Kisses from Miami!
    xx, Shay

    http://www.shaylincastillo.com

  5. Sophie

    21 August

    Really great and genuine post! :) xx

  6. Prudence

    21 August

    Wow, exciting as NYC is, it does sound like a stressful place to live! Nevertheless, you seem to be coping really well and enjoying your time there! Thanks for sharing your experience and wishing you the best!

    Prudence
    http://www.prudencepetitestyle.com

  7. Lisa

    21 August

    Hey Erika,
    Ive just done the Leaving Cert here in Ireland and I got my results and CAO offers this past week. I was 5 points off my first choice which was communications in DCU but I got an offer for English and Media in DCU. Does your college course greatly effect job prospects in New York? I am trying to give myself a broad range of career options after college and hopefully move to New York, but I don’t know if I am making the right choice </3

    Love your blog by the way, You were one of my biggest inspirations to start my own blog!

    Love Lisa xo

    • Retro Flame

      21 August

      Hi Lisa! I think it’s great to have a college degree behind you when you move away, but I don’t think it is the biggest factor when looking for a job. If you’re a hard worker and have good experience behind you (paid or unpaid) this will stand to you a lot more. Hope this helps xx

  8. Great lessons, sounds like you’ve had an amazing year!

  9. […] remember the ‘Lessons Learned in NYC’ series of posts I did (you can read here: #1, #2, #3, #4) and last night’s drive made me want to do a similar style one today. I love New York and […]

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