In 2007 I had my first encounter with the city I now love as much as my own: New York. I was a student, studying for my BA in Dance Education and all third year students went on a study trip to the U.S.A. This was a huge deal for me, growing up in a small town in the Netherlands I’ve always wanted to go to the country where we hear such great, but also crazy, stories about. This was the country where the greatest movies are made, where the best dancers come from, the country full of possibilities. It was exhilarating; I was going to NYC and it was going to be awesome.
The real New York
And eventually it didn’t matter how much I remembered. Because this was the real New York for me. It’s not the Empire State Building, or the crazy dance clubs or the (gorgeous) skyline, it is the magic of the city. And that subway incident was just one of many magical moments I had when I was there. And it was that same magic (and I’ve heard New Yorkers talk about this a lot) that pulled me back into the city a couple of years later. I decided I needed to go back and take more time to experience the real city. And I did, for six months. I got accepted on a dance program at Steps on Broadway and into the International House, where I lived with over 700 other international students. And this time, it was amazing. I danced, enjoyed the city and met the most incredible people. The city gave me many more, unforgettable magical moments. Small things like unexpected snow while walking in central park, and big events like performing on stage with people from all over the world. Somehow, I’ve noticed, you can’t know New York from spending just a week there, or by reading the stories in a book. You really have to have lived there to know the feeling of how magical the city can be. And even six months are way too short to call yourself a real New Yorker.