Paddy: Paddy in the Big Apple
Please tell us a little bit about yourself. Who you are, where you come from, when you moved to New York, etc.
My name is Paddy and I’m an Irishman in New York, born n’ bred in Dublin’s fair city, where the economy is not so pretty (at least for now). I first set my eyes on NY in 1995 when I was one of many Irish to win the green card lottery. I left NY in 2005 but fate brought me back in 2010 and now it will likely be a permanent home.
When and why did you decide to start blogging about your experiences?
I started the blog with the name Paddy in BA (Buenos Aires) as a way to keep a journal of a one year career break in Argentina. My wife is from BA so we made that our base as we explored South/Central America in 2007. We moved to Hong Kong in 2009 so the blog morphed into Paddy in BA (Buenos Asia) and now I may finally be settling down (as I’ve run out of BA’s) so the blog has become Paddy in BA (Big Apple) since.
Do you have any favorite blog entries of yours?
This is a true story about a visit to Beijing, China and some unusual food options.
Tell us about the ways your new life in New York differs from that back home. Did you have trouble getting used to the new circumstances? Did you experience culture shock?
I remember my first day in New York arriving in Penn Station during rush hour and being completely overwhelmed by the amount of people scurrying around like ants. I’d heard NY bagels are the best so I wandered into a busy deli to order one. When I got to the front of the line (queue) to order, I was totally unprepared which was not well received by the server or the people in the line behind me. Lesson learnt – New Yorkers live in the fast lane. When it’s your turn to order, know exactly what you want and have your cash in hand to pay (preferably exact change) or you will be subject to verbal abuse.
Do you think you were fully prepared for what awaited you in New York? If you could, would you change some decisions/preparations you made?
I wasn’t fully prepared but I don’t think I could have changed anything. You just need to adapt to cultural differences which happens gradually. You can’t change New York. It changes you.
Every expat knows that expat life comes with some hilarious anecdotes and funny experiences. Care to share one with us?
Soon after arriving in the big city, I was on the bus near Chinatown after a seriously strenuous exercise session and as a bunch old Chinese women boarded, I selflessly and valiantly gave up my seat so the old folks could sit down. As one of them appreciatively nodded and smiled, I felt a warm fuzzy feeling inside at having done something nice. This wouldn't last long however, as the eighty year old+ granny just pointed at the seat and invited all around to observe the sweaty ass imprint I had just left behind.
To my horror people were leaning over looking at the sweat tracks I had made and then looking at me with disgust. If the ground could have swallowed me up there and then I would have gladly jumped, ass first. The old granny then reached into her handbag and opened a packet of tissues to mop up my unintentional moist deposits. I exited the bus 8 stops before my intended destination and had to walk 30 minutes, but I just had to get off the bus.
Which three tips would you like to give future expats before they embark on their new life in New York?
- Come with an open mind. Any preconceptions you have about New York are likely inaccurate. There is no other city like it in the 60+ countries I’ve visited.
- Just because the bars stay open until 4am doesn’t mean you have to stay for last orders. (not easy for the Irish!)
- Sign-up with all the airline email weekend special airfares (30-70% off) from NY to other parts of the USA so you see the vast contrasts of the different US states at a fraction of the cost.
How is the expat community in New York? Did you have a hard time finding like-minded people or fellow expats?
It was difficult at first but if you google “X expats groups New York” where ‘X’ is your country you can find many opportunities to network with your fellow countrymen/women.
How would you summarize your expat life in New York in a single, catchy sentence?
Fast, Furious, Fun with a sprinkling of Irish Insanity thrown in for good measure.