Disconnectedness of NYC

Central Theme: Disconnectedness of NYC

Dylan – Interviewer

Shauna – Interviewee

Dylan- What’s your favorite place in our neighborhood to eat?

Shauna- Pier I Cafe

Dylan- Mine’s Sushi Yasaka

*We realized neither of us had been to each other’s favorite restaurant

Dylan- Do you have a “spot” in the neighborhood where you can go and sit, read, hang out?

Shauna- I love Riverside Park. I bring a blanket and a book when it’s nice out and can lay there for hours relaxing.

Dylan- I almost never visit Riverside Park! It’s so sad! I don’t spend that much time in our neighborhood.

Dylan- What is your favorite area of NYC and why?

Shauna- I prefer the downtown neighborhoods like Chelsea, Meatpacking, and Soho because they are a little less corporate. I love the townhouses and shorter buildings, and the general creative and artistic vibe you get walking through the streets, seeing the different vendors and boutiques. But, I’ll always be true to the Upper West Side

Dylan- I spend a lot of time in NYC’s Manhattan Chinatown, where I used to teach English on Sunday mornings. I’m half-Chinese, and when I’m in these areas I feel connected to my culture.

Dylan- What do you dislike about NYC

Shauna- I HATE TIMES SQUARE. It’s really not that great. All it is is some extremely bright LED billboards, insane traffic, and a ridiculous amount of people taking selfies with the stupidest stuff. Walking through I can barely keep myself from screaming at the top of my lungs “MOVE SLOWER I DARE YOU”

Dylan-  Haha I also hate Times Square. Also, though, I hate how competitive New York City is, as well as how disconnected from others I felt while living there.

Dylan- When speaking of politics and diversity, what are the differences you’ve noticed between your NYC high school and Emory?

Shauna- well my high school was incredibly more diverse than Emory. Emory likes to talk about how proud it is to have such a diverse student body, but truly everyone is very cliquey within their cultures/races/ethnicities/etc. Whereas my high school actually supported better bonding between different social groups and encouraged more conversations about ethnicity and diversity

Dylan- How has living in NYC affected your sense of self?

Shauna- Living in NYC has greatly influenced my outlook on life, as well as my sense of self. Coming from one of the most progressive, populous, and cosmopolitan cities in the world has made me a more outspoken person, but also made me really reflective. It’s amazing how you can feel so alone in such a big city.

Dylan- I know you’ve lived in other places, how does NYC compare? How have you been affected by the disconnected, hustle-bustle nature of NYC?

Shauna- NYC is very busy. Everyone has somewhere to be and something to do at all times, and I’ve found myself sinking into that mold as time goes on. I used to think New Yorkers on the streets were so rude, but now I’m one of those people. I was born in New York and lived here for two years as a baby, so I guess I’ve always had it in me. Paris was a busy city, but much more of a pleasant vibe. Before that I lived in Connecticut which was absolutely the stereotypical Wall Street wives with white picket fences and three kids and a purebred dog. It was pretty snobby.

Dylan- What do you think Atlanta and NYC have in common?

Shauna- Both are composed of very different neighborhoods (Upper East Side, Soho, and Wall Street vs. Little Five Points, Virginia Highlands, and Midtown) that make up one big city; however in New York the neighborhoods are right next to each other where Atlanta is more spread out, and NYC has a bigger population and is therefore busier.

Dylan- I’ve also noticed that New York City and Atlanta are both home to an extraordinary diversity of people and cultures. There are many ethnic neighborhoods in both cities.

General Question- How did you guys meet?

Shauna- Well the front desk lady in our building, Gabby, likes to know the goings-on of all the residents. When I told her I had decided on Emory, she told me about Dylan! I’d never seen him before, which was funny to think about. I friended him on facebook and kept an eye out but never saw him. A month later I ran into him at the NYC Emory Meet Up and introduced myself, and he clearly had no idea who I was!

Dylan- It’s totally true unfortunately.

Shauna- So he asked to friend me on facebook and I said “I friended you a month ago and never heard back,” which was pretty funny.

Dylan- So August rolls around and it’s time to go to Emory. Shauna and I hadn’t communicated at all. The first week she comes up to me to say hi and sadly, I don’t recognize her and ask her for her name.

Shauna- So I told him how I was the girl in his building, who he’d met before.

Dylan- This goes on for the first six times I see her (and we had a class together).

Shauna- Needless to say it was disappointing that after five times this kid couldn’t remember that I literally lived in his apartment building!!!

(More conversation followed after the formal interview)

Disconnectedness of Living in NYC –

Summary: Shauna and I both discussed our experiences living in New York City when I interviewed her. Although Shauna and I lived in the same building for many years, neither of us had any idea that the other existed until we came to Emory. Additionally, while Shauna and I went to similar high schools, we still had no knowledge of each other and few mutual friends (even on Facebook).

While both of us have many commonalities, our experiences living in NYC have differed greatly. We both have different neighborhood restaurants and stores we like. Moreover, Shauna and I realized that we like to spend our time in different parts of the city.

Over the course of our conversation, however, Shauna and I began to notice that we had both experienced feelings of isolation and disconnectedness while living in New York City. Although both Shauna and I had good friendships in high school, our circles were relatively small. We both felt that people in NYC are often hesitant to interact with others outside of their social circles.

Shauna and I feel that the Emory bubble could serve as a microcosm for New York City life, for a variety of reasons. Although Emory students are surrounded by an amazing diversity of people, both faculty and peers, most tend to stay within pre-determined social circles, or make friends predominately with people sharing a similar background. For example, many Emory students from the Northeast tend to stick together; some come in with already-formed friend groups. These trends have been replicated in Emory’s Greek Life, which is often criticized for lacking diversity.

Many freshman students have a fear of feeling disconnected or feeling out-of-place. In trying to find “community” at Emory, we may have subconsciously ended up forming friend groups with people already similar to us. After the interview, Shauna and I realized both realized that we had met multiple people from NYC (who we’d previously had no knowledge of) after coming to Emory, including some who lived within two or three blocks of us.