Living In New York: Friends vs. Real Life

I will forever be grateful for my amazing sister who introduced me to Friends and made me watch every single episode when I was barely 10 years old. Needless to say I quickly got addicted, and would probably not speak fluent English or be able to work in the US if it wasn’t for Rachel, Monica and the whole gang.

But is life in the City really like our favorite group of amigos made it look like? Let’s play a game called Friends vs. Real Life to find out…

1.       THE APARTMENT

 In Friends: Staying home with all your roommates is awesome

apartment

In Reality: Your place is a closet and your roommates are either busy or weird.

This is for the best: the City is too big and fun to stay in with the same people all the time!

Friends 0 / Real Life 1

2.       THE GYM

In Friends: You can’t quit it

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In Reality: You really can’t quit it (I tried)

Just because you pay for the gym doesn’t mean you will actually go. Remember this when athletic New Yorkers make you feel guilty about your lifestyle.

Friends 1 / Real Life 1

3.       THE COFFEE SHOP

In Friends: The coffee shop is the place to be

Chandler coffee

In Reality: Ain’t nobody got time for that!

Unless you need free wifi, you will grab your coffee on the go like the true New Yorker you have become.

Friends 1 / Real Life 2

4.       JOB INTERVIEWS

In Friends: They are awkward

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In Reality: They can be awkward if they happen at all

I already told you, interviews don’t line up easily, but when you do get one, make sure you don’t kiss your potential new boss

Friends 2 / Real Life 2

5.       WHITE PEOPLE

In Friends: Your friends are all White Americans

White people

In Reality: You live in the most diverse City in the world and your friends are from all over the place

 It’s actually easier to meet international people than Americans in New York. Foreigners are like you: supa dupa excited to be here and eager to make friends.

Friends 2 / Real Life 3

6.       TURNING 30

In Friends: It’s the worst thing in the world

Joey bday

In Reality: It’s still the worst, but no one acts like they are 30 anyway

Thirty year old New Yorkers still live with roommates, are afraid of commitment and don’t know what they really want out of life…just like most Friends characters!

Friends 3 / Real Life 3

7.       DATING

 In Friends: Hooking up with everyone in your group is fine

dating

In Reality:  Hooking up with strangers you met on Tinder is better

When New York life gets tough on you, you will need real friends and won’t have time for ambiguous relationships

Friends 3 / Real Life 4

8.       BLACKOUTS

In Friends: Blackouts are fun

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In Reality: Blackouts are fun if they don’t last as long as Sandy

Blackouts, blizzards, super storms…once a year, there is something that allows New Yorkers to catch up on life and candle lit dinners.

Friends 5 / Real Life 5

9.       ROOFTOPS

In Friends: You can get stuck on them

help us rooftop

In Reality: You can get stuck on them while tanning in a bikini

Make sure you always have your cellphone with you when you go on a rooftop, unless you want to climb down the fire escape in a bathing suit.

Friends 6 / Real Life 5

10.   FOOD DELIVERY

In Friends: You know the pizza delivery lady

Pizza

In Reality: You know the pizza, sushi, Chinese, Indian, Thai and Turkish guy

Chandler and Joey didn’t have Seamless back then, but they still mastered the art of getting food delivered fast and at any given time like true New Yorkers.

Friends 7 / Real Life 5

Verdict: Friends definitely idealizes certain aspects of New Yorkers’ lives, but mostly paints a hilarious picture of their daily habits.

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Network Until You Drop: How To (Really) Make It In America

So you applied to hundreds of jobs online, but after getting nowhere, you ended up following my advice and booked a trip to the City of dreams. Congratulations! You are now about to enter phase two of the New York job hunt: the part where you network your a$$ off!

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Never ever been to Manhattan or any of the five boroughs? The first thing you need is a point of reference to get your networking game on. There must be someone in this town who is somehow related to you: that guy you sat next to in College who always posts pictures of the skyline on Facebook, or your sister’s friend who started her own business here…It’s time to put that six degree of separation theory into practice!

Any occasion can be an excuse to network in New York, that’s why you should never turn down an invite. When I was looking for a job in Paris, I would feel guilty about going out while being broke and unemployed. Well that mentality does not apply to the Big Apple! Just because you’re not attending a professional event doesn’t mean you won’t meet the right people and that they won’t talk about work.

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There is an upside to New Yorkers being career freaks: they don’t mind talking business to complete strangers while they are out! If it wasn’t for being at a random party one night, I would have never met the person who introduced me to my current boss. People here are curious about everyone’s story, sometimes for selfish reasons: they may need you one day. Acquaintances in the City are a two-way street, so until you become the person who gives advice, you shouldn’t feel bad about taking some!

I think there is a huge difference between the idea of networking in the US and Europe. New Yorkers will actually keep their word if they say they want to help you. Where I’m from, networking basically means that you were privileged enough to have connections and can use them at any given time. In America, it’s about working hard to make those connections, and it’s considered a real skill.

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Contacts are not going to fall out of the sky, you actually have to make the first move, and there are many ways to do so. When I felt like things weren’t coming my way, I went to companies and delivered my resume in person, hoping to be at the right place at the right time. The reactions were very positive: people thought it was daring of me to show up like that, and it did get my resume in the right hands.

Bottom line is; it’s all up to you! If everything goes well, the Network Until You Drop phase should be the last step of your master plan to become a New Yorker. Ready?

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10 New York Facts That Every Girl Should Know

#1 Thanking Strangers Who Are Being Nice Is Safe nicki Where I’m from, thanking or smiling to that random guy who said something nice is not always the best idea. In New York, not only strangers wish you “a blessed day,” but you can politely answer without the fear of being chased down to your door step.

#2 In Fact, If No One Compliments You…Something Is Wrong braxton-hotmess If you’re looking good, New Yorkers will let you know. You didn’t get your daily dose of “Damn girl” on your way to work today? You may want to reconsider your outfit, makeup, or attitude.

#3 Promoters Are Your Best Friends satc3414 In some countries, inviting girls to the club and showering them with free drinks all night could be the definition of pimpin’. In New York, this is a normal job and there is no reason why you shouldn’t enjoy it!

#4 Hair Blowouts Are Life Savers summerbey2 There is no such thing as a bad hair day in New York; you can get it done anywhere! For girls on a budget, you only need 20 dollars to look like Queen Bee in neighborhoods like Chinatown or Washington Heights.

#5 Paying Full Price For Clothes Is Not Normal shopping Sales here are an ongoing event! So before buying that Michael Kors purse full price, take a trip to Century 21, Marshalls, or other outlet shops outside of the City to find your happiness for less!

#6 Dating Multiple People Is Ok  

jessa-girls-attractedSeeing more than one person at the same time would be something you do on the low in many other cities in the world. No need to sneak around in New York: dating and being in a relationship are two different things!

#7 “You Look Skinny” Is A Compliment skinny bitches The first time someone told me I was skinny, I worried about my health and ran to Shake Shack. But don’t get it twisted: “skinny” is the new “thin” in the City.  It’s the ultimate compliment, especially coming from another woman or a gay man.

#8 “Natural Flavor” Labels Don’t Mean Shit liar When you are a country girl like me, you are not expecting food labels to be sneaky. Here, “Natural Flavor” labels don’t mean that a certain product was made with natural ingredients; it only says that it tastes like it was.

#9 Brunch Is An Excuse For Day Drinking Zooey-Drink-Quote In most places, brunch is supposed to cure your hangover with a nice omelet and fresh squeezed orange juice, but brunch in New York is an extension of your Saturday night; it involves unlimited alcohol and dancing on tables.

#10 Mani/Pedis Will Improve Your Social Life nails You will not be judged as shallow for rocking a neo orange or pastel pink at work. You will be respected for it. Getting your nails done is not a superficial activity in Manhattan: it’s a conversation starter with your boss, random girls on the train, and a Girl Power statement.

 

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Is Applying To New York Jobs Online A Waste Of Time?

Settling in New York can be a long process, and although networking is king here, you should not wait until you put down your bags to let the job hunt begin.

Unless you have a company in your home country or somewhere else in the States that offers to transfer you to New York and takes care of everything, you will most likely need to be in town to nail a job. But being an active job hunter in the City comes with limited time. As if the expensive price of life wasn’t enough, we foreigners are only allowed to stay 3 months on a tourist visa before being sent back to our mama’s crib!

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That’s why applying to jobs online prior to your arrival seems like the smart thing to do. When I decided to come back to New York as a working girl and no longer an exchange student, I still had a lot to wrap up back home. So in parallel with writing my thesis and getting my degree, I was sending applications via Monster.com, or Simplyhired.com – which are by the way very messed up names for employment websites. It sounds like one is brutally honest and the other straight up delusional. Spoiler alert: there is nothing simple about looking for a job in 2014, especially not in this city. The only way “simple” could belong to New York hiring process was if someone came up with a new expression.

Possimpible

On Barney Stinson’s behalf, I would describe job hunting in Manhattan as “impossimple”: there’s no way in hell it’s gonna be easy! At least Monster is honest about the personality of most employers ignoring the cover letters you spent hours writing and making you feel like a failure. But back to my story. I really thought that sending resumes from France would help me line up dozens of interviews by the time I get to New York. Little did I know… IMAGINATION_JUST_AN_ILLUSION_I_08e19d796d70051b6e1f41945a9bb1f4

In three months, I must have sent over 100 applications, and got one answer. Not three or two; just one! What’s even more depressing is that it was from the American branch of a company I had already worked for in France. So that barely counts, because getting back to me was the least they could do.

Now, New Yorkers at heart, I don’t mean to discourage you…quite the opposite actually. I want my epic fails to make you strong and prepared. One of the mistakes I made was to be very transparent about my situation in cover letters: a French girl passionate about New York who will be the perfect fit…as long as you sponsor her for a visa. By always trying to justify myself for wanting to move to the States, I lost focus on what truly mattered: I was more than qualified and motivated to get where I wanted to be.

Here’s the deal: applying online isn’t the best way to get you in front of the right people. It’s only when I came back to New York that things finally started happening for me. Sending resumes and touching cover letters is a total waste of time, unless you make it the phase one of an elaborated master plan. That’s the only way it can be efficient. Not just because it’s good practice, but because it will make you angry. And you need that hustler anger in order to move to phase two. But I’m getting ahead of myself!

So work on your resume, cover letters and portfolio…but don’t forget to book tickets to New York because your presence here is worth a thousand applications.

 

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New Yorkers You Will Meet: #2 The Paris-Yorker

No matter how long you are staying in New York, one thing you can be sure of is that you will run into a lot of French people. Tourists, students, interns, expats…But it’s the type that my friends and I like to call the Paris-Yorker that stands out the most.

The Paris-Yorker is different from your average Frenchy in New York. He is not a nostalgic character giving into overpriced cheese and baguette, desperately trying to recreate an approximate version of France. No, The Paris-Yorker has accepted the fact that if a mediocre glass of wine is going to cost as much as a decent cocktail in New York, then he may as well order a Manhattan on the rocks!

If you are new to the City, or simply unfamiliar with its French invaders, here are three signs that you are in the presence of a Paris-Yorker:

1. The Paris-Yorker speaks Frenglish Jean Dujardin

As soon as you start a conversation with a Paris-Yorker, you will think his English is good, but doesn’t sound quite like English. Hang out for a few more minutes, and you will realize his French is the same way. Expect the Paris-Yorker to place words like: “cliché, swag, blasé, amazing, déjà vu or mind-blowing” in the same sentence. Don’t get it twisted; Frenglish is not just a hybrid dialect that serves as the Paris-Yorker’s official language. It’s a response to his daily frustrations. Because you see, French language doesn’t convey awesomeness like American expressions do, but English falls short of expressing life’s tribulations. Frenglish is necessary for the survival and emotional well-being of the Paris-Yorker species.

2. The Paris-Yorker doesn’t hang out with French people Marion Cotillard

Or at least doesn’t admit it! The Paris-Yorker takes pride in not being a tourist in New York. Actually, when he hears a French visitor struggling to ask his way in English, The Paris-Yorker will pretend not to understand and walk in the opposite direction instead of helping. That’s why he spends most of his time in Brooklyn, especially in the authentic and preserved neighborhood of Williamsburg – yes, the Paris-Yorker is a few years behind on the whole gentrification concept. If he wants to hang out with his French friends, he will make sure to throw a rooftop party and serve drinks in red plastic cups. But when meeting with his American homies, the Paris-Yorker will suggest an up and coming Independent French Film Festival. And when lonely, he will eat Cronuts until he drops. Here lays the whole paradox of the Paris-Yorker: he will claim his Frenchness at any given opportunity, but tell him he’s “so French” and you will regret it!

3. The Paris-Yorker is home sick everywhere Sad_phonecall_Carrie_gives_to_8b4a7cfd95eb2ab4c043209587f34f60

You probably already figured that out by now: the Paris-Yorker is slightly bipolar. He complains about the American Health Care, absence of vacations, and bad reality TV. But in France, he can’t stand people’s lack of motivation, naysayer mentality, and lame pop culture. The Paris-Yorker feels home everywhere, but gets home sick just as easily. He has the best of both worlds, but never all at once. He is addicted to the constant excitement that New York offers but can’t breathe without a dose of French art de vivre. In other words, The Paris-Yorker wants his cupcake and eat it too but knows that it ain’t that easy  because…c’est la vie !

 

Thanks to my lovely Paris-Yorkers, Wissam and Nora, for the inspiration!

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