Goin’ Up A Yonder – New York Culture Shock

Although I will deny it from time to time, you are reading the words of a boy who was raised in The South (North Carolina and Alabama to be specific), which, for those unfamiliar, is a part of the United States rather different than the Northeast, and very different from New York.

So, despite the fact that I’ve wanted to come to the North and see New York City since I was a youngin’, there was still a bit of culture shock, so let’s talk about how to handle that.


First and foremost, let’s talk about the fact that New York is a bit of its own culture; so it doesn’t matter where you’re coming from, something is going to be new. That I can guarantee–you just can’t let it overwhelm you.

The biggest thing for me, and I think for a lot of people, is the change in food and dietary habits when you move somewhere new, especially somewhere like New York–where, although there’s everything, some things just aren’t the same. For me this meant everything from Chic-fil-A and Zaxby’s, to having the chance to eat a home-cooked meal, which was something that I missed immensely. This is not an easy problem to solve (It’s something that I still struggle with: wanting to go home, feel at ease, and relax calmly with a good meal)! Although it took time, the meals that I was able to share with my friends, the restaurants that we visit, and the food that we’ve cooked in the kitchens that we’ve had (both on-campus and off) have helped build that sense of family again. The small things that help create the sense of home that helps diminish that culture shock.

New York also exists in a culture of always needing to be busy, which makes home feel all that different when you return. It can sometimes feel like a of sink-or-swim ideology – feeling your left on your own to succeed or fail – but that’s simply not true. Learning how to balance these two forces, wanting to do everything and wanting to do nothing, is the key to surviving in a city that is always bustling. That’s to say, maybe take one job, not three; maybe take 18 credits, not 20; maybe take one summer term of classes, not all three and every January term possible–you get the picture.

The most major thing that can be shocking about New York and New Yorkers is one of the same things that I often say about NYU – although no one will check up on you every second, it is not to say that there aren’t people there to help you at every turn. New Yorkers, and to a certain extent your fellow NYU students, will always help pull you up when you’re down. It just means that you have to be as real with yourself as possible and reach out for help when you need it, don’t forget that.

New York is a lot to take in, and while my transition has had its moments of faltering and fear–to quote a rather famous musician, I get by with a little help from my friends.

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