I’m taking a break from the recent profile series to give you insights about living in New York City. From housing to drinking, I’ve asked a handful of New Yorkers to talk about their experience. If you know anything about me, you know that I love libations, eating, and going out. It’s expensive but if you play your cards right, you may just land a new friend, a date, or a free drink (or three). This week we have Natalie Abbate on deck and the lessons she’s learned from living in The Big Apple.
Finding Renaissance: Natalie Abbate
“My life motto is fake it ’till you make it. Haven’t made it yet.”
Name: Natalie Abbate
University/Area of Study: Fashion Institute of Technology- Fashion Business Management
Occupation/Company: Not quite there yet…
Hometown: Pittsburgh PA
Current Location: New York City, New York
Restaurant/Food: Italian food
Coffee: Whole milk latte
TV Show/Movie: Gilmore Girls
Clothing Line: CeCe Sportswear (I work there, look it up!)
Artist: Too hard to choose! Fall Out Boy, Panic! At the Disco, The Weeknd, Adele, John Mayer…
Music: Anything but country
Author: John Green
I moved to New York City in August for school. I’m studying fashion at Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT), and living here has always been #goals. My university, Mercyhurst, has a program where I can study at the university for three years, and then move to NYC the fourth year and finish at FIT. It’s an amazing opportunity that gives me two degrees in four years – how could I pass that up?
Truth be told, I was super scared to leave my small catholic university for an adventure in the Big Apple. Every time I told someone I was moving to New York City, they said how impressive it was and how exciting – but always asked if I was I scared. Um, yes, I am scared…and you’re not helping. But, August came and somehow, I packed up my many suitcases and hit the road. I learned a lot about myself that first week. I mean, a girl learns a lot about herself when she’s lost on the subway and has no clue where she is, or how to get home. You learn quickly, though.
Here are five things I have learned since moving to New York City that I think are useful.
1: Bodegas. Utilize them.
I had never heard the word “bodega” in my life before moving here. When I first heard it, I was sitting in one of my classes. It was the first day and I was trying to be cool. We were supposed to be talking about our favorite stores and places we like to shop. One girl starts talking about bodegas, and I just go “oh, cool” and pretend that I know what she’s talking about even though I’m super confused. I finally ask her what a bodega is like ten minutes later and she looks at me like I’m crazy. “You know, the little delis you see everywhere?”, she said. I was a little embarrassed after that, to say the least. FYI, a bodega is basically a convenience store with a fancy-sounding name. Which is what makes it very New York. You can get almost anything there. And it’s cheap. Not just cheap for NYC, but actually cheap. I tried to buy a 40oz PBR as a joke and there was a $5 card minimum, so I had to buy two of them. Edward 40 hands here I come (not really). Two important lessons can come out of this: utilize bodegas as much as possible and always carry cash.
2: Happy hours are LIFE
Everyone knows that drinks are expensive in NYC. Like a minimum of $8 a drink expensive. Which can make going out for drinks a little unnerving. I’ve spent $50 on three drinks before. That was not a fun bill. Happy hours have become my saving grace. $5 margaritas, $3 glasses of wine, beer and shot combos. The possibilities are endless! Happy hour prices in the city make drinks the same price as normal drinks most places, but it’s better than the alternative. And if you’re really clever, you can find the best prices and times so that you can drink all night, which is what we all really want out of life.
3) It’s all about who you know
People always say this: it’s who you know. That’s a stressful thing to hear when you’re moving to a giant city where you know maybe five people. Maybe. But it seems to be true. Honestly, the smallest of connections can be useful. Before I moved here, I applied to probably 30 internships and heard back from maybe 3 of them. And those three internships didn’t end up working out. I got my internship through what might be the weirdest connection out there. It was because my mother’s friend’s son’s girlfriend works at a fashion company and she sent my resume to HR. I’ve been there since August and have made countless connections since.
If the connection works out, it helps them as much as it helps you because they recommended you.
I know it can be awkward reaching out to people, but most people want you to utilize them as a connection. If the connection works out, it helps them as much as it helps you because they recommended you. So, use those connections and get some of your own so you can help people when they ask. Pro tip- ask someone for drinks during happy hour to make connections while also saving money.
4) Walk fast
Real New Yorkers do not walk slow. They don’t stop on the middle of the sidewalk to take pictures or move slowly to look at the city views; they move with purpose. They’re always doing something, chasing the latest trends- like rainbow bagels (which are so last summer), or eating raw cookie dough in a cone (hot right now, but on the decline). The trends are here and then gone so quickly that you have to walk fast to get to all of them before they’re irrelevant. If you want to look like you belong, put your headphones in and walk fast.
5) It really is the city that never sleeps
And I love it more and more every day
Editor’s Note: Natalie Abbate is a current student of Mercyhurst University and Fashion Institute of Technology. We met while I was a graduate assistant and she was one of our student leaders. About Matt Fier and Finding Renaissance: I'm a former Bible-school grad with a B.A. in Psychology and a minor in Biblical Studies. I'm now getting my M.S. in Marketing Intelligence at Fordham University, Gabelli School of Business. I've lived in six seven cities since 2009, and have been on a lot of adventures. I'm now searching for The Renaissance in all of us. You can learn more here.