So a lot has happened since my last post everyone! Of those many things, some of which I will have to reveal at a later date, I was able to get out and have a somewhat impromptu trip to New York City, New York! The reason? To attend the U.S. Career Forum there, which is a career event oriented toward people with Japanese & English language abilities and interests. So for those of you who might be coming back to the US and want to pursue jobs in the US or in Japan with Japanese companies, this is for you!
So this was the first leg of the trip. I bussed down to Boston South Station on the Concord Coach Line – which is pretty nice. If you’re heading up to Maine I’d recommend it. And if you’re ever having to linger around Boston SS and you need a snack or something, don’t feel like you have to stay in the bus station, which has limited options. My boyfriend recommended popping over to the train station next door because there are many more options available for whatever you may need – coffee and snack for me – and it was good advice. I felt better grabbing something at Au Bon Pain than I did at McDonalds. D:
After that I made the switch to a Peter Pan bus that would go to the NY Port Authority bus station. This… was not so nice. The drive down was good, but their buses are really not in good shape. The most vexing part was really only that none of the outlets were functioning on the bus, and I knew I was going to need my phone for navigation in New York so I wouldn’t just be that lost tourist.. A word to the wise: conserve your battery on the way down. Also, the bus was incredibly noisy – lots of parts seemed like they were shaking loose there.
And maybe par for the course for a Friday afternoon arrival, but we were scheduled to arrive at the Port Authority station at 1:45pm. When did we arrive? 3:30pm… Thank you gridlock New York traffic! I started to wonder why anyone even bothers to drive there.. more on that later.
That being said, we were on the bus for too long!! But the bright side is we drove all the way around Central Park in the process, which I wanted to see. :) It looked really cool – the scenic views were what kept me from losing my noggin in the middle of that lengthy bus arrival. From just outside the city all the way in, it was very, very New York. Up until now I didn’t know what that meant when other people said that, but now I do. So metropolitan, everything that everyone was doing just seemed like a natural, normal thing to do. I don’t know. Maybe if you’ve been you’ll know what I’m talking about.
One key observation that I had early on that persisted throughout my impromptu trip involved a pretty high level of horn honking. As a person who was once told that my ‘laugh point was low,’ it was pretty amusing, and no matter where I went in the city I heard fair amounts of horn honking. I think if you live there it becomes more like background noise and you notice less, but I definitely noticed it as an “outsider.” That being said, it certainly did not detract from the ambience of the city life – rather, it enhanced it! There’s no illusion when you’re lulled to sleep by occasional horn honks.
Anyway, to continue my tale, the first thing I had to do – well, second – was eat. I was starving after being on that bus for hours. So I went to Go! Go! Curry, which I found while Googling food on the bus, and I chose it because it wasn’t too far from the station. So I popped in there and ate ravenously.
Go! Go! Curry…
It seemed like most of the clientele was male, probably because of all the carbs involved, but I had no shame. I hadn’t eaten in like 6 hours! And it was pretty delicious.
Since it was in the area and the theme of my journey seemed to be ‘Japan,’ I decided to pop into the NY Kinokuniya, which is right across from a nice park and a subway stop. I walked through some of the fashion district to get there and it was pretty scenic. My history of watching Project Runway found me excited to be in such close proximity to Mood, lol. But I pressed on to Kinokuniya because it is so natsukashii (なつかしい）. I really long for some of the things I miss about Japan, being away from it and all. So I took myself in there and grabbed a book for my boyfriend, checked out a few more, longed for a wonderful bookstore such as Kinokuniya where I live, and then decided to head to my hotel digs.
I want this book
and this book!!
So I got on the subway. Now I’ve heard a lot of things about the NY Subway (thanks 30 Rock), so I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I had to experience it right? I had bought a Metro Pass at the Hudson News in the Port Authority – a 4-rider – and used that to get on. I was in subway mode with my headphones and I stood most of the way. Nothing strange really happened, except a small kid came onto the subway selling snacks. When there were no takers he quickly moved to the next car. Other than that one occurrence though, nothing really happened at all. So I felt like the myth was busted. Rode down to Delaney St. and exited toward Essex St. above ground. I was in the Lower East Side, which was another thing I had to get used to on the journey – the Boroughs!! I was like which is where? half the time. Pretty handy to check out a map and try to remember though because subway signs say things like ‘Toward Uptown,” “Toward Downtown,” or “Toward Brooklyn,” and unless you know which area your destination is in, those signs aren’t exactly helpful.
The Digs + Lower East Side
Anywho, I walked myself a couple blocks down to the Blue Moon Hotel. You can find my Booking.com review here. It’s great value for the money if you’re willing to be a little far from you need to be. Lower East Side seems to be in a hopping area with a lot of night life, which makes sense when you consider it’s near NYU, so there isn’t a shortage of things to do.
I took a shower immediately because I felt gross after being out in public that long, you know the feeling. After I jumped out I was better able to appreciate the digs.
Speaking of things to do, while I felt pretty tired from the ride and the walking, not to mention I still felt I had a little prep left to do for some of my interviews the next day, I made myself go out to get a quick bite & drink. I went all the way to NYC so I should enjoy it right? was my line of reasoning. I stumbled across Goa Taco, and let me tell ya, I love tacos, so I went in.
I got a spicy margarita and a pork belly taco. It. Was. Delicious. goa taco is totally happening – there isn’t a lot of seating area but I liked the crew’s vibe and the shop was playing hip, current music, so it felt very New York and I enjoyed sitting there eating for a bit, watching people come and go. That spicy margarita though…. delicious. If you stop in and are of age, you HAVE to get one. I love a marg, but this one way exceeded expectations. :)
I headed back to the hostel/hotel, jumped in my bunk, did a little bit of prep, and went to sleep. I knew I’d have an early morning so I had to get my intelligence (and beauty) sleep…
U.S. Career Forum NY
So the next day I set out pretty early. And of course the best way to start my day is with a nice little breakfast snack and an amazing cup of coffee.
Lucky for me, Irving Farm Coffee Roasters cafe was right down the street from Blue Moon. I had know about this shop before because of a bit of a connection through my boyfriend’s family, so I was really excited to find it right next door basically. I was even more elated to find out how delicious their dark roast pour over and baked goods were!
and the eats!
It was a pretty refreshing breakfast. That was a piece of raspberry banana bread by the way, and it was AMAZING. I was in the first rush of customers who were approaching just as the doors opened on Saturday at 8 AM.
And yup, I was wearing a suit. Japanese style. That’s in the Blue Moon elevator right there.
So anyway I jumped on the subway after this, and shortly came to realize that the subway is definitely less reliable on weekends than it is weekdays, and it is a point that a friend of mine who lives in New York now reiterated to me later. So if you find yourself in the city rushing somewhere, it could be faster to take a Lyft or something, depending on the time of day. Just something to keep in mind.
Lucky for me though I had a lot of time. The doors of CF open at 10 am and the event ran until 5 pm, with a short 5-6 pm happy hour following. So I got off at the closest stop, which was Penn Station and walked for 15 minutes or so to the Javits Center. It was further than I anticipated, but it was good to get some exercise.
For many people, you may not have to arrive at the Career Forum as soon as it opens, but if you’ve scheduled a lot of interviews in advance using their website or via email, you’ll likely be putting in a whole day. I certainly did. I had 4 interviews lined up and a lot of resumes prepared to hand out to all the different booths along the way. Really your effort in advance and the day of makes the experience for you, so I think it’s well worth the time put in ahead of time to have things arranged and lined up for you once you arrive.
Part of what precipitated my journey was also that I received/was approved for the travel scholarship down to the event. They’ll give you a reimbursement based on where you’re coming from to hopefully offset the costs involved with going down. So even if you aren’t sure you’ll get it it is worth a shot to apply. I didn’t think I would get it and I did! So that’s what helped me decide to go down.
All in all I think it was a useful event for me to really see where I want to end up. I’m kind of at a nexus point in my career, so I want to make sure the next step I take is the right one, and being able to go to this really helped me realign my compass so to speak. I think it can help others too, so it’s well worth going to one of these events.
After Career Forum
So after Career Forum I had plans to meet up with a friend from university and we had a blast. She’s been living there for going on 7 years now, so she knows a lot about NYC. So we checked out a couple awesome places. The first being sake bar decibel.
Sorry the photos are a little blurry, but it was dark! It was a pretty awesome place. We had some delicious food, and they had amazing sake! It was an excellent place and we stayed there for a while just chatting and catching up. Eventually we ran the clock though and had to order more or scoot, so we decided to scoot.
We walked around for a bit to decide what to do next, and we ended up heading to a place she knew about called Angel’s Share, which is located through a discreet door inside of a Japanese restaurant called Village Yokocho. It’s a speakeasy concept so it’s one of those ‘secret’ locations, but even though it’s secret, it was pretty popular, lol! It’s like that everywhere I feel with speakeasies once the word gets out. But if you get the chance, I highly recommend stopping in. Their cocktails were out of this world….
That’s something that I think is pretty impressive. The level of NYC cocktails is off the chart. I though some of Portland’s restaurants put together some awesome cocktails, but the NYC game is pretty strong. So if you’re interested in sampling and are of age, it’s something definitely worth looking into. Just any cocktail bar will probably be amazing, but Angel’s Share was pretty much the best I’ve had yet. It was a tequila-based drink with burdock-infused mezcal. I don’t recall the name of the drink, but think about those components alone! Pretty amazing.
So my friend and I continued chatting for a while and enjoying our adult beverages and we were considering doing karaoke, but I’m just too old – hahaha! So we went to our respective homes and I got back at about 2:30 am (which is a stretch for me nowadays, lol). I knew I had an early morning (8:30 am return bus), so I showered ASAP and got in bed. I decided to grab a Lyft the next morning to make sure I made my bus in time. I was exhausted with the whirlwind trip, but since it was my first time in NY I was glad to do it. I think everyone should go check it out. Really it seems like a place where anyone can belong, and I think that’s one of the best parts about the city. It was great to feel that vibe for a weekend. Needless to say, I made it back to Maine safely and in better time than the way down, which was a huge relief.
Did my journey get you curious about New York? Send me a message or comment below and I’m happy to share my impressions or more info about Career Forum. :) Until next time!