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First Impressions

By baharmahzari

It finally happened after almost 1 1/2 months of being a student at GW. I pulled my first all-nighter yesterday. Right after my friends and I arrived at Union Station from NYC at midnight, I was so kind to let them both sleep in my bed while I was preparing for a long night of studying in the living room. Good news is that I survived and was able to spend a lazy Sunday with my friends, which consisted of us strolling down U-Street and ending up at Ben's Chili Bowl, before I took them to the airport and said Au Revoir.

Now Cologne is 3966 miles away again and I can fully concentrate on being back in my DC mode. It was great to have my friends here and experience DC and NYC extensively as a tourist, but it was also very exhausting. Plus, I am majorly behind with my reading schedule and exam studying sessions for my classes. Hence, the all-nighter was very much needed. They are probably many more to come this week, but it is worth it.

New York City is definitely on the list of 'perfect justifications' for pulling all-nighters. Arriving on Thursday, me and my friends did not only discover New York's #1 hipster place being our hostel (The Local NYC), but we also enjoyed each a slice of jumbo pizza sitting on the red stairs at Times Square.

Times Square Selfie

Little Italy

The next two days included daily visits at Starbucks followed by proper sightseeing including the Brooklyn Bridge, the 9/11 Memorial, Statute of Liberty, the Rockefeller Center, Central Park and the Upper East Side (since one of my friends is just obsessed with Gossip Girl). We also walked through most neighborhoods and I just fell in love with Little Italy and Soho again. It happens every time I am in NYC. Its repeating love at first sight.

New York Skyline

I also fall in love with cheese fries every time I have them. Especially, the chili cheese fries at Ben's Chili Bowl are superb. So I took the chance to interview my friends about their time in the States, while enjoying some of DC's Soul Food. I was very interested in their first impressions about the US or lets rather say about DC and NYC. It was their first time in the States, which allows me to refer to actual first impressions about this country in this blog entry since I do not consider my first impressions so significant after having lived in the US before.

They mentioned three major things, which they will always associate with the US. All three refer to the people - the Americans:

  1. Helpfulness

It does not matter where you are or what time it is, there is always someone who will approach you and offer help, if you need it. Even in the most shadiest corner of Queens in New York City. Should the person not know the directions, he or she will most likely take out his or her phone and search on Google maps. Detailed directions will be given and the person will make sure that you will find your way. This has been the case for my friends. It has also been always the case for me. Hence, all of us agreed that this might be typical American or we just always were lucky to meet the nicest people.

2. Good Mood

Okay, to be fair coming from Germany the standards for 'being in a good mood' are not that high. But I agree with my friends that Americans in general are very cheerful. There is always a smile involved. We laughed a lot here. Not just among us three, but often involving Americans joining us for a quick chat either in Central Park, Ben's Chili Bowl or the bus going to NYC.

3. Outgoing

"Americans seem to be very outgoing even if your English is not that well." I think this quote by one of my friends says it all. She felt very welcomed and did not feel uncomfortable speaking English even if it is not her first language. No one viewed her accent or basic choice of words as a problem.

It is interesting to see that all the things, which my friends found notable about the US are in association with its people. The first impressions my friends had about the US did not include unhealthy food, XXL sizes or consumerism. Their first impressions had to do with the American people and their characteristics. Of course you can like a city, because of its buildings, neighborhoods and atmosphere. But if you fall in love with a city (or even country), it is not primarily because of how the city itself looks like, but what it is composed of - its people.

Six years ago I feel in love with the people in Concord (NH) and after having spent a little time in DC I am pretty sure that I will find love again.


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