maandag 16 oktober 2017

Day 17: The new place


📍 Location: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, USA

Yesterday was moving day. The room where I stayed for the past two weeks was going under construction so I couldn't stay there anymore. But that turned out to be a very good thing, because my new apartment is way better!

A few days ago I asked the guy who rents the apartment to me - Ola is his name - if I could stay there until the end of October. I had rented the place for only 14 days, because then I could always change places in case it would be a gross, disgusting, haunted house with fungus dripping of the walls etc. Well, the room turned out to be fine - for only €18 you have to be okay with the fact that there isn’t much luxury and that you have to share a bathroom with people with whom you rather not even share a conversation with.

Ola said that I could move into another apartment of his for the same price. Which is insanely cheap if you look at the place! And the timing was actually perfect because the mice situation got worse. On my last day there I saw one crawling - not only on the ground - but on the table as well. And that means that they can get everywhere. Even in your bed. So I needed to get out of that place.

The new place is in the same neighborhood, only five minutes away from the old apartment. It has a kitchen, two bathrooms, a bigger bedroom and is filled with very nice people instead of mice. (The picture shown above is a snapshot of our living room. Pretty fancy, am I right?). I don’t know exactly how many people there are, because every time that I’m in the house I see new faces. But I guess around 16. The people who I’ve met so far were like-minded people, also traveling and around my age. Last night everyone was just hanging around in the kitchen, cooking food for each other and sharing their stories. The vibe is really nice. Happy to call this place my home for the next two weeks.

~

I've visited the MET today. Really proud of myself that I've been to a museum voluntarily. I'm such a grown-up right now. Did I liked it? Some parts, yes. For example, the architecture of the place is amazing. And I liked the rooftop with the view of the skyline. And some pieces in the museum of course. It was also kind of fascinating to watch other people like me - people who don't have a clue what's going on because it rarely happens that they set foot in a museum - looking with the biggest scowl to the most uninteresting stuff like little clay pots, just trying to look smart and sophisticated. Well, fake it until you make it.

zondag 15 oktober 2017

Day 16: MeetUp


📍 Location: Manhattan, New York, USA

A really easy way to meet other people in a new city is to use the app MeetUp. I mentioned this app already in the blog post from last Monday when I was planning on running with the Dashing Whippets. You just apply for an activity that suits you and go there. There are all kinds of activities, ranging from working out together, rooftop parties and even learning a new language. Whatever you want.

At first I thought it was maybe a little bit embarrassing to use this app. That I would be one of those sad, lonely people with no friends whose only way to get some human contact is by using this app. But my roommate told me that loads of people are using this app and only a few are sad and lonely. So I was convinced.

By the way, I forgot the name of my roommate unfortunately. But I can’t ask her anymore because it’s too late now. That would be something like ’Hey, I know we’ve basically been breathing in the same air for almost two weeks now, but what’s your name again? That’s rude. So now my first roommate ever will be remembered as ‘the American girl’.

On Thursday night I went to a free yoga class with a friend from school. And we were not the only ones, because the gym (located in a public school in the Upper East Side) was completely filled with people. It was my first time doing yoga and probably the last. Except for the last exercise where we could just lay down with our eyes closed, I was not flexible enough to do most of them. I felt like an old lady. Very sad haha.

Because most of my friends here are going out on Friday nights and unfortunately I can’t join them, I decided to go have diner with five strangers instead. This activity was a bit risky, because the creeps of MeetUp could get easily attracted by these kind of things. But it turned out to be really nice.

Everyone was very nice - although there was a tiny generation gap. I had a very nice conversation with one guy in particular . He had traveled a few years ago through Europe and was a source of information, tips and advise that I could use for my upcoming road trip.

The only thing that you shouldn’t do, is to have dinner with someone like that again. Chances are there will be some kind of miscommunication regarding to the different expectations (especially when you let the guy pay). See, I had reached my goal. I had all of information I needed. But after we said goodbye, I received all these texts in which he said that he already had tons of other places in mind where we could go to in the future and especially places where you can play board games (??). Ehhhh, sorry, but unfortunately I’m occupied for the next two weeks. Take care.

This night my new roommate (remembered her name :)) said something to me that’s so simple but so true. She said that when you’re traveling alone, you’ll find out that it’s so much nicer to spend time with yourself than to spend time with someone that you actually don’t really like. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

donderdag 12 oktober 2017

Day 13: What's it like in New York City?


📍 Location: Flatiron Building, New York, USA

What’s it like in New York City? I’ve been asked this question a lot since I’m here and it’s always a kind of difficult one to answer. Because it’s hard to describe.

Everything about this city is just so iconic. The yellow cabs, the skyscrapers. Even though you’ve never been here before, you’ve seen the place countless times in movies, tv shows, the news. So walking around New York for the first time kind of feels unreal. It’s so impressive. Like walking around in the decor of a big movie set.

I’ve been here for almost two weeks and I know now for sure: NYC will never be boring. There are just too many people to meet, too many things to do, too many places to go. Sometimes I almost feel like a lost puppy because I want to see and experience so many things, that I don’t even know where to start.

Also, nothing is too crazy in New York. Don’t be surprised if you’re walking through the streets of Manhattan and see someone having a really intense conversation with a chair. Or with themselves. Or if you see someone shamelessly dancing and singing along with the music playing in their earphones. It’s so normal here that not even a single person looks twice.

Coming alone to this city is quite a challenge. New York can be a tough city if you don’t know anybody and if you’re an outsider. You wish you’d meet a local right away who could show you all the cool spots in New York and introduced you to their group of friends. But those chances are unlikely, because you’ll notice that everyone here is minding their own business. Doing their own thing. Following their own dreams. They’re not going to hold your hand. You are on your own.

Although it can be really nice to be alone sometimes, sooner or later you’re going to feel like company. And in New York you can’t just wait around until people will come to you. Because they won’t. You have to make some effort yourself to meet other people. To make some friends. Don’t be afraid and go out there. Feeling lonely is one of the worst feelings when traveling alone. But it’s up to you to do something about it.

So what’s it like in New York City? Come and see for yourself J You don’t want to miss it. But grow a pair of balls before you do. This isn't a place for scaredy-cats.

dinsdag 10 oktober 2017

Day 11: A nice surprise


📍 Location: Chinatown, New York, USA

I started this day with a pleasant surprise. I was planning on quickly making myself some breakfast before I had to go to school. Since there’s no kitchen here - just a fridge and a microwave - that means that I can either make myself a bagel or a wrap.

For the record, I keep my food - except for the things that go in the fridge - in my empty suitcase underneath my bed. That may seem a little bit weird, but believe me, I’m sure that the inside of my luggage is the cleanest place in the whole room. And since I’m planning on being on the road for a little longer, I’m not going to take any risks of getting food poisoning by letting my food get effected by the germs of the hundreds of people that stayed here before me.

So I wanted to go for a bagel. I grabbed the sack of bagels from my luggage, only to find out that someone already ate my breakfast before I did. Well, ‘something’ I should say, because it was immediately clear that - by the way the plastic sack was gnawed open and the sight of the bagels that had now more than one hole - this was the work of a mouse. My roommate had already warned me about our little friend last week. Normally I’m not that scared of mice, but the knowledge that there was one inside my luggage just freaks me out. And it must’ve been there for quite a while, because it also got to my tortilla wraps and shit all over my towel. Disgusting. That towel is now in the trashcan. So as my breakfast. Luckily I’m moving to another apartment in a few days. I hope it’ll be one without mice.

After school I went to Chinatown together with four other girls. We had lunch in this really nice and cheap restaurant called Nom Wah. Super good Chinese food! After that, everyone went their own way. I went to Bryant Park - definitely my favorite spot in New York so far. This place is an oasis of calm in the middle of this loud and hectic city. Everyone is sitting at the little tables and chairs that are placed everywhere is the park, just enjoying their day. The vibe is very peaceful. And because there is a wifi hotspot, it’s also a perfect place to Skype and to work on the blog a little bit.

In the evening I went to a stand-up comedy show. I bought my ticket just the day before online and I was very excited about it. This was something that I really wanted to have seen before I’d leave New York. The good thing about going alone to these things is that you’ll meet other people before you know it. While I was waiting in line for our seating, I came across two very nice retired ladies from Texas who were my company for the night. Loved them. They were so sweet and funny. And they got even funnier when they started nipping on their fifth ‘One Night Stand’.

The show itself was very simple. There was one host who introduced all of the stand-up comedians. And there were a lot of them - I think we saw about 10 different faces. Each comedian had 15 minutes to perform and make the crowd laugh. Some did a really good job, but there were also a few who could not even crack a single smile. Very painful to watch.

To be honest, I sometimes had a hard time understanding the jokes. But I have a hard time understanding jokes in general and I’m usually not the first person to get the clue, so I think it was just me. It happened to me a few times that the whole room was laughing, except for me. Then you have to fake it, because otherwise you look like a humorless person who doesn’t have a single joy in their life.

But don’t worry, I did laugh a lot of time sincere. I’m happy that I went. Wouldn’t have missed it.


maandag 9 oktober 2017

Day 10: Long weekend


📍 Location: Bed Stuy, Brooklyn, New York, USA
(My neighborhood)

After five long, tiring but also exciting weekdays it is finally weekend. And thank god it’s a long weekend, because the Americans celebrate Columbus Day today. I don’t know exactly what that means, but the important thing is that the school is closed today. Which means that I could sleep in late for three whole days! And that was much needed, because the bags under my eyes started to get almost black.

I haven’t done a lot of exciting things these days. Went out a little bit, but mostly chilled at home and did some of the necessarily stuff like going to the grocery store and doing my laundry.

After a lazy Saturday morning I met up with Nao around 3PM to go to the Chelsea Market and to the 9/11 Memorial Center. That last place made a huge impression on me. It’s hard to imagine that this huge tragedy happened at that exact same place just a few years ago. But when we went into the museum and saw a wall with all the faces of the poor innocent victims and their background stories, it suddenly became so real. It was very confronting. I have no words for that feeling.

Sunday I explored my own neighborhood a little bit. I hadn’t seen much of it yet, just the one street between my house and the station. I also went to Williamsburg, another neighborhood in Brooklyn which is known for its hipster vibe and all kinds of cool places. You’ll find the young and creative people of New York clustered together in this place. I went to a few vintage stores, walked around a little bit and went back home. I still needed to do my laundry really quick in one hour before I went to dinner with Nati, another girl from my class.

In retrospect, I could’ve done my laundry a little bit more efficient. It’s a long story, but at one point my white laundry was washing in this one laundromat and my black laundry in another five blocks away. It was a lot of running up and down, putting things in the dryer and pulling them out still soaking wet after half an hour. I was scared that my clothes were going to shrink if I would put the program to high. Well, it’s been 24 hours and everything is now hanging over each other over the side of my bunkbed, still soaking wet. But you’ll learn from it. The next time that I’m going to do my laundry it will be a successful story. For sure.

After this disaster I had to hurry to the subway. Nati and I were meeting at a Vietnamese restaurant called Saigon Shack in the lovely neighborhood Greenwich Village in Manhattan. This restaurant is my favorite place so far! They sell the best spring rolls and sweet potato fries for the cheapest prices, they’re fast and when your free glass of ice-cold water is empty, there will come a nice waiter and refills it immediately with more free ice-cold water. Well that’s something I like. Holland can take a good example from this. Why so greedy all the time? Just give someone a free glass of water. Bless you Saigon Shack!

Today was my least productive day so far. The weather wasn’t too good, so going outside was also not very appealing. I just went quickly outside to get some breakfast at 3PM. I skyped. Oh, and in the evening I was going to run with the Dashing Whippets Running Team. I found them online on this app called MeetUp, where you can meet up with other people in the city by applying for the same activities. I wanted to start working out again, because after four months of stuffing myself with free pasta and pizza at the restaurant where I worked, I’m not in the best shape. So I decided that it would be a good idea if I went for a run with a real motivated group of people.

The Dashing Whippets (I kind of like the name - it sounds like a group of fast people) were going to meet at 7PM, but unfortunately I arrived too late. What a surprise. They already left. Well, maybe it was for the best and I saved myself for what could've been a very painful situation. I decided to still go for a run by myself and noticed that after 2 miles, I was already completely exhausted. So I think that running 5 miles with a team that’s been running real marathons since they were born was probably somewhat over-ambitious. But one day I will be a Dashing Whippet as well. Watch me.

That was my weekend in a nutshell. Or maybe not in a nutshell - sorry for the length of this blogpost. It was probably not the best idea to stuff three days in one post. 

vrijdag 6 oktober 2017

Day 7: How it's going so far


📍 Location: Staten Island Ferry, New York, USA

The first week of my big adventure is almost over. It’s crazy how time flies. It feels like yesterday that I said goodbye to my home for 3 months and hopped on a plane that took me to the other side of the world.

I’m not going to lie. The first week was kind of hard for me. Huge ups and downs. I realized that I came to this city with big expectations. I’d heard all these amazing stories about language courses. That it would be an unforgettable experience because you would meet people from all around the world and that those people would become very close friends. Almost like a little family.

Unfortunately New York is much more individual. Most students at Embassy English (name of the school) are here for a long period of time, some even more than a year. They’ve already built up a whole life outside of school with work and everything, so it’s hard to connect with them. And because almost everyone is already 21+, they can enjoy the nightlife of New York, while I have to go home because there’s no way that I can enter any club or bar in town. That’s a big bummer.

To be honest I’m thinking about quitting the course after next week. I just don’t really care about what they teach you in class - too grammatical and theoretical for me - and I’m basically on my phone for three hours straight. And because I actually reached my goal - making a few friends in this city :) - it just feels like a waste of money.

So in short: I came with the wrong mindset to this city. And it took some time to abandon that. But don’t get me wrong. I’m not crying my eyes out 24/7 wishing that I wouldn’t have come here. Not at all. Maybe the course didn’t worked out for me the way I’d hoped and I felt a little sad about that, but that’s not the end of the world. I still have New York to enjoy. And I do! This city is truly as amazing as they say it is. When I walk around I look like the typical tourist. Always making pictures with my camera, trying to capture every little detail of this amazing place.

My goal for the next few weeks is to experience the city less as a tourist and more as a local. Hopefully even meet a few locals. I’ve found a few sites online where they tell you which places are nice to visit and not as touristic. So that’s where I’ll be!

But this week I’m still the biggest tourist. Today, my friend Nao and I took the ferry to Staten Island. It was so nice. Standing for 20 minutes on the boat, breathing in the salty air, just looking at the Statue of Liberty and the skyline of New York slowly fading away without saying anything. Those are the best moments. The biggest ups. Then I realize that I’m so lucky to be able to experience this adventure and that I should enjoy it 100% before it’s over.

So family and friends, I’m doing fine! At some moments more than others, but I think that’s part of it. Know that I miss you. But I’ll be back soon. X

woensdag 4 oktober 2017

Day 5: Rough mornings


📍 Location: Brooklyn Bridge, New York, USA

So far, the mornings are not going a smoothly as I would like them to be. I know now, that if I still haven’t walked out of the door at 7:40, that I’ll probably be late. Probably though. Of course, there’s still a change that things are going so smoothly along the way that it feels like the universe has got your back. So my advise: always believe that you can make it until the point that you enter your classroom 15 minutes late - with a red head and gasping for air. Then you’re fucked.

Well, the New York version of the universe has not got my back. After this morning I know that for sure. I reached that point that I just got so tired of myself. That you realize that you’re stuck with yourself for the rest of your life and don’t know if you're mentally prepared for that.

I left the house at 7:45 (risky, but I like to think that everything is possible). I hadn’t brushed my teeth yet because the gross, fat guy from the other room went just in the bathroom when I wanted to. I’m not kidding, every time he has used the bathroom, the place is covered with these black, curly pubic hairs. On the toilet seat, on the sink, in the shower. It’s disgusting. I wonder what he does in there. No never mind, I don’t even want to think about it.

If you have to start the day with unbrushed teeth and a smelly morning breath, that’s just the sign for you that it isn’t going to be your day. Nothing you can do about it, just accept it.

So before I entered the subway, I quickly went into the deli (yes, look at me growing) to buy a bottle of water and a chicken wrap for lunch. But when I wanted to pay, I realized that I left my wallet at home. Jeeeeesus, how stupid can you be. On that moment, my changes of being on time were minimized. I apologized to the deli man (sorry deli man, I’m just a stupid fuck), ran back home, grabbed my wallet, ran back to the store, paid for the stuff and ran to the subway.

At the time that it was 8:40 and I got lost between my last subway stop and school, I finally gave up. I had to accept that I was late again and that I still hadn’t succeed in being on time since I got here. But as I always say: better late than never. And it’s not that I didn’t tried. This time it wasn’t even my fault. I blame the fat, gross guy with his loose pubic hair.

Fortunately the rest of the day was awesome. My Japanese friends and I went to the iconic Brooklyn Bridge. It was freaking amazing. We stayed there the whole evening. Had dinner at Shake Shack. Living the American life. When it got dark we saw the Brooklyn Bridge and the skyline of New York by night. It’s was beautiful, almost like a dream.

dinsdag 3 oktober 2017

Day 4: NYC on a budget

📍 Location: 7th Avenue, New York, USA
(View from my classroom)

Today I had my first real school day. I met my teacher and my classmates, who are all very nice. Every weekday the classes are from 8:30 until 12:00, with a 15-minute break in between. After that you’re free to do whatever you want.

After I had lunch with two Brazilian people in a nice place called Cafe R, I decided to go on my own to Central Park and the Upper East Side. I was kind of tired and not really in the mood for company, so I was actually happy to be on my own for a while. I spend the whole afternoon just wandering around, taking pictures like a real tourist and eventually ending in a Starbucks to use their wifi and Skype with my friends. 

By the way, enjoying New York while on a budget is such a big struggle. It takes effort to find the very few places where you can get a meal for just a few bucks. And when you’re hungry or in a hurry, you don’t have time for that. So without really realizing it, you’re spending a lot of money on food. Especially Starbucks is a tricky one. In New York there’s one on literally every corner, with their iced caramel macchiatos, chicken caprese sandwiches and great Wi-Fi connection. Also a great place to Skype. So I’ve probably been the one of the biggest fundraiser for them for the past few days. But now I’ve realized that if I’m going to stay here for a month, I need to make some changes.

So around 9 PM I found myself cutting a cucumber with a plastic knife on toilet paper (fimprovised cutting board) in my room. Preparing breakfast for the next morning. #NYCampingLife. I felt like such a loser, haha. When my roommates entered the room, they laughed and told me that there are better ways to save money on food. For example, to not buy your groceries in a supermarket in Manhattan - as I did - because the prices are way more expensive than in Brooklyn. They said that I needed to go to these places called Deli’s, which are basically like little supermarkets, with which Brooklyn is filled. They also sell cheap freshly made sandwiches and Chinese food. A new world opened for me that evening. So from now on it will be only Deli’s for me.

But for tomorrow I've made myself breakfast. A bagel with some hummus, tomato, cucumber and lettuce. Wrapped in toilet paper because aluminum foil was too expensive. I’m already looking forward to the next morning.

maandag 2 oktober 2017

Day 3: First day of school

📍 Location: Top of the Rock, New York, USA

I woke up by the sound of my alarm. My roommates probably too. Oops, sorry guys. I’ve set it the night before with great sadness for 7AM. Okay, let’s be real, 7AM is not a respectable time. I’m getting so tired of places like schools that have the guts to just ask that from a person. There is only a limited amount of people that can fully function so early. Shocker, I’m not one of them. So let’s say that that was the reason why I was 20 minutes late on my first school day, without a passport and passport photo about which they repeatedly said to bring them with you. I think that they love me already.

For the next four weeks I’m following an English language course at Embassy English. It’s in the middle of New York (a few blocks away from Times Square) - so cool! Today was just an introduction day. Teachers explained a few important things and we got the change to meet our co-students. Tomorrow is the real deal. 

I think that about 80% of the students are from Japan. And the rest is from Brazil. Don’t get me wrong, they all are very nice and I even made a few friends already, but it was kind of a bummer that there wasn’t more diversity. I was looking forward to meet people from all over the world, getting to know a lot of different cultures etc. But this English course isn’t the right place for that unfortunately. Unlike New York, which is a melting pot of literally every culture in the world. So I just have to find a way to blend myself in the city and its people.

In the afternoon I went with a few people from the course to the Top of the Rock (Rockefeller Center). Because this sight was something like $35, the biggest part of the group found it too expensive and didn’t went anymore. So in the end it was just me and a nice Brazilian man. We had to wait for a little while, but were just in time to see the sun slowly set behind the breathtaking skyline of New York. It was seriously like a dream. Probably one of the most beautiful things I’ve seen in my life. Worth every penny.

zondag 1 oktober 2017

Day 1: Arrived in New York!




📍 Location: Brooklyn, New York, USA

Yes, I’ve made it! I’ve arrived safe and sound :) Which is quite an achievement if you have to sit for eight straight hours next to the weirdest guy on the plane. Like seriously, what are the changes. There are around 300 seats on the plane, and of all people, I have the seat next to him. The ‘him’ that I’m talking about was a man who was very nice at first; just asking me why I was flying to New York and being interested in my upcoming adventure. But after 20 minutes he was still asking me questions and they slowly went in a different direction. Like: “Do you have a boyfriend?”, “What is your type of guy?”, “Am I your type of guy, because you’re definitely my type of girl.”. Well no grandpa, you’re not. Now please shut the fuck up because I want to watch a movie. But he wasn’t done, because he wanted to play Truth or Dare and take pictures of me while I was reading my magazine. And I’m such a pussy, because I can’t say no and seriously played the game with him and let him take the photos.

But I don’t know what was worse. Him awake or him asleep. Because right after the moment that he finally shut his mouth and fell asleep, there was coming a noise out of him that is going to haunt me for the rest of my life in my sleep. I think it was him snoring but I’m actually not quite sure.

I found my way to my apartment in Brooklyn very easily. First the skytrain, then the A-train and finally the G-train. I have to admit that if it wasn’t for the nice Dutch ladies (and their subway map) that I met at the airport, it probably would’ve been another story.

I can’t complain about the apartment where I will be staying for the next two weeks. For only $18 a night I have a nice bunkbed, a pillow with actual stuffing, a hot shower, a fridge and microwave. Of course there is no luxury, but that’s okay. I’m sharing the room with three nice people. Two girls and one guy. Everyone is going their own way, so these are not people with whom I’ll spend time in the city. But that’s okay, I will meet a lot of other people.

Well, so far so good. Tomorrow will be my first real day in The City That Never Sleeps. Wish me luck!

zaterdag 30 september 2017

DAY 1: Off to New York


📍 Location: Amsterdam Airport Schiphol

Hello everyone! Guess who’s back again?

After almost a year of silence I’m going to bring this blog back to life. Yes, for real! RoosKoks.com is back from the dead. But this time it’s going to be a little bit different.

Let me explain. In a few hours I’m going to hop on a plane which will be the beginning of the greatest adventure of my life so far. I’ve been looking forward to this moment for over a year now. And it’s crazy that the time has finally come.

I’m going for 3 to 4 months to the United States and Canada! Just me and my huge backpack. Starting in New York, where I will stay for a month to follow an English language course. Then I’m going to head to the west coast. I’ll visit LA, San Fransisco, Seattle - and finally will reach my last destination: Vancouver. I’m not sure yet about my means of transport. Will I travel by car, by bus, by train? Everything is possible. We’ll see.

To be honest, anxiety and excitement are fighting for the first place right now. Of course I’m not doubting about whether I should go or not. There’s no way that I won’t be on that plane. I just don’t know what to expect. Pff, I have so many questions. Am I going to meet a lot of new amazing people? Is it a good decision to travel all by myself? Am I going to miss my family, friends and colleagues a lot? Get homesick? It was hard to say goodbye to them. Way harder than I thought it would be.

But I don’t have to question the fact that it’s going to be an amazing experience. It’s going to be tough - for sure, with huge ups and downs. An emotional rollercoaster. But I’m more than happy to take the ride.

I’ve decided that it’s a good idea if I’m going to blog my journey. To give you every once in a while an update letting you know that I’m still alive and that I’m - hopefully - doing just fine. That I’m having the time of my life.

That was it for now. I have to go catch a plane. You’ll hear soon from me! All the way from the Big Apple!