What New York taught me

Over just some of the luxurious free time off afforded to students, the portion known affectionately as “half term”, I paid a visit to the Big Apple. And it was incredible. Which got me wondering: despite the concept of the holiday being a break from the mindset of learning, how much did my trip turn out to be its own kind of education?

In true YouTube-generation style, I thought I’d compose a list so that if you decide to make the leap across the pond, you know which classes to sign up for in the American School of Life.

Cool in every way.
  1. Family sport is done properly.

It was a great treat to see the New York Rangers face off against the Arizona Coyotes, and of particular interest, as until then I had never been to watch live sport. What pleasantly surprised me was the friendliness, family atmosphere (the merchandise store carries 74 types of Rangers jerseys) and general lack of hooliganism – in particular, patrons were advised before the match to refrain even from “obscene gestures”. Perhaps this is why there seemed to be so many children, reflecting smiles from every corner, clad happily in the colours of their state heroes; in today’s busy world it’s wonderful to see that families can have an exciting night out at the game without fear of things going wrong.

This isn’t frozen yoghurt.
  1. Frozen yoghurt.

Need I say more? The famed Bloomingdale’s department store made us fall in love with this soft, whippy and familiar-looking but apparently healthier. Forty Carrots can concoct a Wonka-esque wonder for you, so put it on your list – but be prepared that it redefines what is meant by “small”. I loved mine (with a filling of white choc chips, in case you’re wondering) and yet couldn’t finish it lest I enter a state of cryo-stasis.

A bit bigger than the Thames.
  1. Islands are never as small as you think.

For the uninitiated, New York City has six boroughs. A lesser-known one, Staten Island, caught my attention: not only was it quite removed from all the others, requiring a 20-minute ferry ride, but the mall there also seemed to house a shop called Brighton Collectables. What a novelty, I thought – do they sell sticks of rock, buckets and spades and incongruously suggestive fridge magnets much like the little shops in England’s Brighton? I was determined to find out. However, upon arrival I realised that, reasonably enough, Staten Island was not a size my tender British reasoning could yet cope with when using the word “borough”. Having made an appointment on the mainland that was creeping up on us, I spent probably less than ten minutes in what looked like a very quaint little slice of America. Ah well. At least the ferry goes past the Statue of Liberty.


And finally…

  1. Worshipping shopping at a store dedicated to your favourite entertainment brand is nothing to be ashamed of.

Nintendo NY. You’re a marvellous place, and your staff are lucky to have you. Should one be amongst the video game titan’s fans, they’ll find two levels of enough Mario, Legend of Zelda and Pokémon to set a new retail high score. I came away with a quite frankly adorable Pikachu plush, who is very well-made and at a reasonable price, when you consider that the shop is one of only two places outside of Japan where such merchandise is officially sold.

An honourable mention goes to M&M’s World, which I visited despite having one in London – that’s how much of an experience it is. While the very attractive Candy Wall needs to be sampled with caution (a second too long pulling the handle? Whoops, $8 please), there’s plenty of inedible stuff to be had, from cushions to pyjamas to crockery. Who decides what’s “childish”, anyway?


This article was originally published in the BHASVIC Buzz online magazine, and was not paid for by any of the brands featured (bit of a shame, but there we are).