Ever thought about abandoning that raucous East Lansing nightlife and constructing a new persona for yourself in an entirely different city? Move to New York and try one of these identities on for size. Here’s a how-to manual to help you seamlessly indoctrinate yourself into city life.
Once you’ve put on those thick black-framed glasses and stood in front of the mirror for a good chunk of time making your hair appear artfully disheveled, take the subway down to Williamsburg, Brooklyn, the hipster Mecca. Get ready to see dozens of brethren in plaid shirts and suede moccasins identical to your own. Strange hats and vests are also inordinately popular in Williamsburg.
Williamsburg is home to literally dozens of pretentious indie bookstores with an overload of David Sedaris books and more vegan cafes than you ever thought possible. Bedford Avenue is the epicenter of Williamsburg. Grab a cafe seat at a place on Bedford and munch on a vegan cupcake as you jealously eye the beat-up neon orange messenger bag that some girl in tube socks and a headband is rocking.
If you tire of walking through Williamsburg’s post-apocalyptic landscape, (seriously, why are there no trees anywhere? Why do parts of the city look completely abandoned?) sit down somewhere, open up your Mac and spend a few hours looking for yourself in pictures on Thecobrasnake.com. Or look smart pretending to read a book by an obscure Russian author (Yuri Rythkheu, anyone?) Bonus points if the novel isn’t an English translation.
Your ideal major: Africana Studies, Creative Writing, Comparative Literature
Your favorite band: I could tell you, but you wouldn’t know who they are.
Child of Privilege
If you’ve ever unironically worn Sperry Topsiders and think salmon pink and green is a legitimate color combination for everyday wear, the Upper East Side might be a good starting point for you. Dozens of elite private schools are located in this Manhattan neighborhood, and the CW series Gossip Girl is set here. Warning: If you were actually an Upper East Side resident, it is highly unlikely you would ever admit to watching Gossip Girl.
[cathedral2]An afternoon in the life of a trust-fund baby would be relaxed. You might sit on the steps of the Metropolitan Museum of Art (MOMA), conveniently located along Fifth Avenue, and people watch on a nice day. Or bring a pair of those hugely oversized sunglasses and a towel and sunbathe in Central Park. You could even throw on an argyle sweater and hit up that Lacoste store on Fifth Avenue if you were in the mood to spend some money.
Once your skin is sufficiently darkened, call several of your friends for an impromptu lacrosse game in the Park or head on back to your Park Avenue brownstone. The day isn’t completely free, however – you probably have to go tutor at a struggling public school or volunteer at a soup kitchen so your Harvard Law app really shines in a few years.
Your Ideal Major: Finance, Business
Your Favorite Animal Print: Whales
Expert New Yorker
You grew up in Kansas or a similarly bland, homogenous Midwestern state, where you attended an upper-middle-class high school and led a mildly traumatizing life as a drama enthusiast in a sea of football fans. Then you got that NYU (or for the truly blessed among you, Columbia) acceptance letter. Five months later, you wear skinny jeans, mock baseball-capped tourists as they wander aimlessly down city streets and laugh at the idea of actually having to look at a subway map.
[expert]An afternoon in the lives of Expert New Yorkers would involve showing someone around town, as they truly only come alive when the opportunity to display their immense knowledge about Manhattan presents itself.
To truly pull this one off, make constant use of sentences like:
“I never really felt alive until I moved to the city.”
“I was so out of place in high school. It’s like I can finally breathe now.”
“The art. The culture. This is my real home.”
Answer the questions of visitors with a sigh or a mildly amused laugh at their ignorance. Have a ready-to-go recommendation for anything and everything one can possibly do in Manhattan, even if you have never personally done it yourself. (Best place for an eyebrow waxing? Sania’s Brow Bar, of course. The best deviled eggs in the city? Go to Smith’s.) Be more New York than an actual New Yorker.
Your Ideal Major: Anything that ensures grad school, aka at least four more years in the city
Favorite Art Museum: MOMA, especially because it’s free every Friday night from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. You honestly didn’t know that?
If you like your coffee and your humor black, head to Greenwich Village. Bohemians and artists have flocked to the Village since the 1950s, when Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac spent a great deal of time avoiding working in the area.
After applying too much eyeliner, grab your tote bag carefully decorated with buttons proclaiming willfully obscure bands (Crystal Castles? The Cool Kids? Panda Bear?) and start your afternoon at the Strand, a huge used bookstore that claims to contain 18 miles of used books. After perusing dusty volumes for a few hours, head to Doma, a Mediterranean-themed cafÃ© with a quiet, calm atmosphere that lets you finish writing the next great American novel in peace. Grab an issue of left-leaning weekly The Village Voice and flip through it for inspiration if your creative well runs dry. Or gather a group of your writer friends (and really, who among your friends is not a writer?) to discuss the difficulties of the creative process and the struggles that are an inevitable part of creating art.
If you’re attending college (after all, genius can’t be taught – is school really worth it?) you’re probably pursuing a random liberal arts degree, so head on back to your writer’s co-op and perfect that paper about the differences between Aristotle and John Stuart Mill for a few more hours. Be proud. You’re doing work that’s changing the world.
Your Ideal Major: Cinema Studies, Philosophy
Favorite Type of Cigarette: Djarum Blacks