You live here now, Karis. You don't need to keep reading articles about why New York is the best city in the world and wish you were there. You're here. I don't know how many times I've told myself that over the past six weeks. It happens as I'm scrolling through my Instagram feed and catch a glimpse of the Manhattan skyline, when I'm watching Castle and the scene is his insane apartment or when I click on an article giving advice for how to be a true New Yorker.
Every time this happens, I feel a pang in my heart and think, Wow, I wish I were there. I've been doing it for years.
The only difference is that now, I am here.
I ride the subway across the Williamsburg Bridge every day, go to school mere blocks from Washington Square Park and am often just a short walk from sights like the Flatiron Building and Bryant Park.
I've taken the Staten Island Ferry, wandered Little Italy — in both Manhattan and the Bronx — traipsed through Brooklyn's picturesque residential streets and familiarized myself with the cheap delis in Queens.
There is no way to count the number of germs I've collected on the subway, I've consumed countless cheap slices of pizza and diner hamburgers and I've had a nighttime walk through the Battery Park City (where, dude, I would so live one day).
And those aren't the only things that make up my New York experience. Other factors include approaching strangers on a packed sidewalk and asking them about the pope; emailing a woman I spoke to briefly at a festival to see if I can do an in-depth story on her; having stories published and rejected; and live-tweeting the CNN GOP Debate before putting together a Storify of it.
I've made friends with the 13 other students in my program. We go out to lunch together and treat each other like siblings. We have a group Facebook message that's filled with plans to meet up, questions about assignments and, yes, full-on panic about what we're going to do and why we're here. I've had the equivalent of counseling sessions with several classmates — where I was both the counselor and the patient, at different times.
In the short time I've been in NYC, I've grown into a whole new person. I walk about five miles a day. I approach strangers in the biggest, most diverse city I know of, and ask to video them. I navigate the subway with ease. I am both more scared to be a journalist and much more confident in my calling.
Most importantly, I wake up every morning knowing that no matter what happens, no matter where I get thrown or what uncomfortable situations I'm in, every experience is making me stronger. I'm becoming a better friend, a better writer and a better city-dweller.
I'm overwhelmed. This is the city I live in, guys:
I mean, seriously, what? How did this happen?
I don't know by what measure I was allowed to be blessed in such a way. But man, am I going to enjoy it. Every minute. Even the ones where I'm terrified, where I'm lonely, where I'm uncomfortable ... even those.