Greetings from the Big Apple!
My new office
This is my first blog post as Third Year Abroad's Mole at the UN in New York, how exciting! Let me start by explaining how I got here... I graduated from Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh back in June this year and was awarded a prize called the Fiona Watson Memorial Award. This award is basically a scholarship which sends a student to do an internship with the UN in New York for 3 months in memory of Fiona Watson who was a Heriot-Watt student who worked at the UN until she was tragically killed in 2003. Like many of you reading this blog, I studied languages at uni and spent a wonderful year abroad in Tours, France and Granada, Spain.Regretfully I didn't keep a blog during my Erasmus year but I'm not going to make the same mistake twice! I still have plenty of wisdom to share about the Erasmus experience and I hope to be able to give you all an insight into a different kind of time abroad, too. So I hope you enjoy my blog and please feel free to get in touch if you have any comments, questions or advice!
As I write this first post, I’ve only been in New York for 4 days but already so much has happened. Unfortunately I was delayed by 3 and a half hours at Glasgow Airport (technical problems - must've been that falangee!) but had a smooth flight once I finally got away. When I arrived, I made my way to Grand Central Station where I was meeting my friends. The journey on the Newark-Manhattan shuttle bus took a lot longer than normal as President Obama was in New York addressing the UN General Assembly and therefore a lot of roads were closed, and traffic jammed. An inconvenience that made my arrival here all the more exciting! Once I met my friends, we walked to their apartment located on the banks of the East River. That evening we went out for a lovely meal to celebrate my arrival in New York. I’m so glad that I was able to meet people I knew as soon as I arrived here as it has really helped me to settle in. Both Steven and Margaret work at the UN and their daughters attend the United Nations International School so they have been a great source of information and really made me feel at home here.
So after sleeping off the majority of my jet-lag (I now believe it exists!), I went exploring. Although I’ve been to the city before on holiday, it’s impossible to see everything in just a few days, so I saw loads of parts of town which I had never been to before, like Madison Square Garden and the Flatiron building, as well as some more familiar sites such as Times Square. Everytime I go somewhere, I seem to look up or turn a corner and see some famous sight and think, "oh so that's where that is!".
I then met my friend, Alicia, who has just completed an internship with the UN here and is leaving me her room in an apartment on Roosevelt Island. So we got the cable car over to the Island (seeing some amazing views of the Manhattan skyline on the way) and then had dinner with my new landlady, Maria, and her daughter, Paula. Maria is from Spain and she works at the UN as an interpreter. She has already mentioned that she will take me into work with her one day and introduce me to the interpreters working in the English section which will be really exciting. In the apartment, Maria, Paula and I all speak in Spanish which is great practice for me too. I stayed with my friends for 3 nights and now I’ve moved into my apartment. I have a great room with a balcony (see my photo) and think I’ll really like it here.
I still can't really believe I'm here to be honest though, everything still feels extremely surreal. When I moved to France for Erasmus, my mum came out with me and stayed for my first week, and as it was so close to home (relatively speaking folks!) people often visited so I didn't really feel very far away. This experience feels extremely different already - yeah, they may speak English here, but I'm 5 hours behind the UK making Skype dates impossible to arrange and if anyone wants to visit it would cost around £500! I'm sure I'll get settled into a routine soon. This weekend I’m going to relax, explore Roosevelt Island, do a food shop and prepare for the big day on Monday – starting work at the UN! I'll tell you all about that next time...