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The Student News Site of Tabor Academy

The Log

The Log

    The Do’s and Don’ts of New York: A Visitor’s Guide to NYC

    The first installment in a feature series

    New York, also known as The Big Apple, is one of the most beloved and visited cities in the United States. As someone who has lived in New York for quite some years now, I know how popular with visitors my city can get. To help them out, I have made a foolproof guide for those who want to look less like a tourist and more like a resident. Or those who are simply curious about the various aspects of New York.  

    Starting this guide off will be what you should not do when visiting New York. The single thing that often separates tourists from natives are their mannerisms. To complicate matters, New York already has a reputation that is not entirely accurate and often misrepresents New York’s customs and culture.  


    First, never let your guard down while you are visiting. Whenever I hear someone speak about New York it is usually a glamorized version that nonresidents tend to paint. It is seen as a beautiful and carefree state that is welcoming and safe. While New York does have these moments occasionally, it should not be held to such lofty standards. There are good and bad parts of New York, like any other city, and those areas should be treated with just as much alertness and focus.  

    So, always be alert and focused. Have fun of course but be mindful of what is going on around you and trust your instincts. If you sense something is going on that you do not want to be around, follow your gut, and remove yourself from the situation. If you see someone acting suspicious, it is better to avoid that person altogether instead of running the risk of a negative encounter with them. If you are traveling with family or friends look out for each other and make sure they get to wherever they are going. It takes a bit of time to mix pleasure with safety; however, it is an important skill to have no matter where you go.  


    Second, avoid walking slowly if possible. The main complaint I often hear from friends and family is how much they hate it when people walk slowly in front of them, even more so when others cut them off just to walk slowly once they are in front. New York is a packed and bustling place where everyone is always in a rush to get somewhere. This is even more true if you are in areas like Manhattan. If you are going anywhere at all, make sure to walk somewhat faster than you normally do. This not only helps avoid annoying anyone who is in a hurry to go to work or school, but also makes a walk take less time.  


    Third, avoid stopping in the middle of the sidewalk to look for directions. This rule goes hand in hand with walking quickly. Stopping abruptly, even if it is just for a quick minute, often ruins pedestrians’ pace and causes frustrations with whoever ruined their flow. It is always better to step to the side to look, especially if you are having a tough time with directions.  

    No one will get mad at you for being confused: New York is such a big city that even residents sometimes struggle to find their way. However, interrupting people’s flow or blocking their way without warning is often just seen as rude. Besides, taking a second to remove yourself from traffic makes figuring out where you are going ten times easier.  


    Fourth, do not ask residents for help with directions. It is better to look at Google Maps than to try to find someone who will answer your question. If New Yorkers are famous for anything, it is their ability to mind their own business. Often people will ignore you if you try to ask them for anything, and it is rare to get exact directions from residents. Sometimes residents get confused, too, even if they have lived there for years. So, trusting a map is way better and more exact than trusting a resident who might be just as lost as you.  



    Fifth, have proper public transportation etiquette. Notice others around you and recognize the space you are sharing. Whether you take a train or a bus, people are usually on their phones, listening to something with headphones, sleeping, or simply keeping to themselves. It is considered rude to disturb the peace by being overly loud, or simply acting like you are back at home in your room.  

    Even if you do not think anyone would entirely care, I assure you people do notice those little disturbances you have caused and often complain about it afterward. I have had many friends rant about some annoying person on the bus or some loud person on the train. Unless you have an important reason to disturb the peace with any kind of screaming or overly loud conversation, it is most likely unnecessary to do. Be respectful of others around you and mindful of your noise level.


    I hope the first part of this guide serves you well on your trip to New York, or anywhere you decide to go. New York is a fun place to visit and has many exciting places to go and things to do. However, it is always important to know what you should and should not do when visiting somewhere new. 

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