Cultured on a Budget

You could travel abroad to experience different cultures, but if you’re like me (a broke post-grad, living in New York) you could also just walk outside the front door of your New York City apartment.

Two weeks ago, I had the rare “gift” of being alone for the first time in the city. By that, I mean all my friends were gone. Some went to graduate, my roommate went to visit a friend and others were on vacation. So, I had to be a lonely resident for the first time since moving here. It wasn’t that bad, actually.

Well, let me take that back; Saturday I was lame. I got outside for maybe three hours, and the rest of the time I spent in my apartment reading (surprising, I know).

During my time outside, however, I was able to experience a fascinating parade. It was the Federation of Turkish American Day Parade, talk about a mouthful. I stumbled across this enchanting cultural display walking toward the park. The street was full of bright colors, loud music, clapping and cheering. I had no clue what was going on. Luckily, I had my camera and was ready to snap a few pictures.

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At the time, I didn’t know what the parade was for. I literally just googled it as I was writing this. But it didn’t matter; a parade is a parade. It was lively, fun and enlightening.

Unfortunately, it started to rain right before the end, so I ran back home to the safety of my apartment and my books. I felt a little cultured, but I knew I needed to get out more, because this city always has something going on, and I am an idiot if I don’t try to find it.

Sunday, I woke up with a determination to see the “world” that is Manhattan. I woke up early, wrote, read, drank coffee, worked out and then decided I was going to go to the café down the street and write some more. On my way out the door I was bombarded by loud music, funny costumes and orange soda bottles.

Overnight my street turned into a block party for Norwegian Constitution Day. I was mesmerized, partly because the band singer was gorgeous, actually all the Norwegian men in attendance were beautiful, but mostly I was caught off guard by the amount of people there. They had tents, children’s games, food, music, authentic costumes and flags. If I didn’t know I was in NYC, I could have easily thought I was in Norway (probably because I have never actually been to Norway, so I wouldn’t know the difference).

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In my one weekend alone, I learned a very important lesson. America is freaking awesome. Okay, I already knew that, but it’s still nice to have that idea reinforced every once in a while. I mean, where else can you stumble across a parade celebrating those with Turkish heritage one day and walk outside to a Norwegian Constitution Day celebration the next?

The melting pot that is New York City fascinates me to no end. I love the diversity, the language, the food and the wine from countries all over the world, and I am so thankful I get to live in a city that fully embraces every culture. As a young adult who is passionate about travel, I am constantly saving to visit other countries, experience other cultures and taste other foods; however, for now I am perfectly content being a poor post-grad in New York, because I get to have new experiences every week, and I don’t have to pay $1000 for a flight.

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