Tag Archives: culture

20 Things I’ve Learned in My First Year Living in New York City

I have been living in New York City for about a year now and I would like to share a few things I’ve learned about living in this amazing city.

  1. Sidewalks are often uneven.  Watch where you walk, especially if you wear open toe shoes.
  2. In addition to walking, sidewalks are for trash and it can be smelly.  However, some buildings wash down their sections of sidewalk in the morning.
  3. It is a well dressed city.  It makes you want to dress well and look nice all the time.
  4. You have to tip everyone who works in your apartment/condo building during the year end holidays.  Although it is optional you will get reminders though emails or flyers.
  5. The weekend subway schedule is confusing, for example, the A train runs on the C track.  So, read the posters and listen to the train announcements on the weekend.
  6. You will love delivery services and will use them more and more.   You can have pretty much anything delivered to your apartment.
  7.  There are a lot of free events though out the year.   For  example, free museums on Friday nights, free museums on the first weekend of each month (sponsored by Bank of America), and Shakespeare in the Park (in the summer).
  8. Summer outdoor movies are very popular.
  9. Expect to wait in line for a long time when shopping at Trader Joe’s unless you get there early in the morning.   There is only one Trader Joe’s wine store in the city in Union Square.  You can get beer at all Trader Joe’s stores through.
  10. You will learn to get fruits and vegetables from the stands on the streets outside your apartment.
  11. Starbucks are everywhere.  You can find them in almost every corner, literately.  Some of them even open 24 hours.  However, I prefer local stores that make great latte.  My favorite is Stumptown at the Ace Hotel (expect to wait in line for a long time).  They really take their time making your coffee.  They also serve Doughnut Plant donuts.
  12. The subway is not the cleanest in the world but you can take it almost everywhere in the boroughs for $2.50 a ride.
  13. Williamsburg is hip and full of young professionals.   I prefer living in Manhattan though.
  14. It is somewhat true that you won’t really find New Yorkers in Times Square unless they work in the area.   I have to walk through to get to work.  In the morning it is nice and quiet but in the evening it is very crowded.  I went to the Swatch store in Times Square last week and the sales person there made the comment “we don’t get the locals here.”
  15. All the street fairs in the city have the same food and merchandise vendors.  The only exception is Smorgasburg in Brooklyn which has local vendors.
  16. There are so many good restaurants to try.  Many of them, you will have to wait in line (unless they take reservations).  Food is more expensive here, in general.  For example, Chipotle is more expensive here compared to other cities.  One exception is Trader Joe’s which sells their products at the same price in all their stores.
  17. There are a lot of smokers, especially on the sidewalks.
  18. TKTS Booth is for tourists.  There are other options getting discounted tickets to the shows, for example, Today Tix app.
  19. There are Duane Reade stores (owned by Walgreens) on almost every corner.  They are not the cheapest but the most convenient.
  20. There are still many areas and neighborhoods I have yet to explore.   Who knows how many years it will take.

My Quick Trip to Japan

I had a quick trip (2 nights) to Osaka, Japan in early September.  It was a business trip on short notice.  Luckily, I upgraded myself to business class with Japanese meals.  In case you don’t know, you can request a Japanese meal if you are flying business to and from Japan on United.  It is a standard option for everyone in business class but it often runs out quickly.  However, you can call United to request one before your flight.

Japanese meal on United business class (first course)



















Japanese meal on United business class (second course)



















This is my second time in Osaka but I don’t remember much about it from my first trip about 15 years ago.  This time, I flew in to Kansai International Airport which is a landfill in the middle of the bay.  It is about an hour by train from the city center.  I took an express Nankai train to the city center.  I had a reserved seat and there were only a few stops at main stations along the way.

Nankai Express train
























The train and subway system in Japan is somewhat easy to use and there are English signs in most places.  I was able to navigate myself most of the time.  I really enjoyed exploring Shinsaibashi district and Dotonbori district where there are many shops and restaurants.  If you go, don’t miss the neon signs along Dotonbori canal.  The most famous sign there is the Glico sign.

Glico sign in Dotonbori district
























Shinsaibashi district
























On my first night, I was craving tonkatsu and I found this local restaurant near Dotonbori district.  This is a place where you order your food on a machine outside the restaurant first.  This kind of restaurant doesn’t offer table service.  It only has a counter around the kitchen.  You go to the machine, insert money, pick what you want to eat, take the ticket(s) inside and put them on the counter where you sit, the chef will take your ticket and get you food.  Most dishes come with noodles.  The food was great and it only cost me 480 yen.  For water, you can help yourself from cups and water pitchers available on the counter.  After you are done eating, make sure to use the available cloth to wipe down your area.  No need to tip in Japan.

A machine to order food
























Inside the restaurant
























My food (tonkatsu with noodle soup)
























On my second night, I got to try Torikara stick (fried chicken meat stick).  It was pretty good.  They offer many sauce options but I didn’t try any since I couldn’t understand what they were.

Torikara stick
























One of the most famous tourist places in Osaka is Osaka Castle.  It is an easy walk from Tenmabashi station.  The castle area is pretty big and the castle itself is beautiful.  You can go inside the castle which is now a museum.  You have a nice view of the city from the 7th floor of the castle.  The elevator will take you up to the 5th floor and you can walk up to the 7th floor.

Osaka Castle
























A few random things I learned from this trip about Japan.

– The close and open buttons in elevators really work in Japan

– It is hard to find free WIFI in Osaka.  The only place I found was at Apple store.

– It was hot and humid in September.