Layover tour of New York City
Originally posted on February 1st 2015 on my tumblr.
I spent the holidays with my family in the States, and on my return to Spain, I had a ten hour layover at JFK. I’d never been to New York before and ten hours was a long time to sit in an airport, so I bundled up and took the subway to Manhattan.
Traveling with your friends can be incredibly fun, but there is something special about exploring a new place alone. Beyond the flexibility of your schedule, there is a heightened awareness of the city around you. I think this is rooted in simple caution– when alone, I am naturally more alert to my surroundings because getting lost or encountering dangerous people would be a bigger problem for an individual than for a group.
But the benefits of being an observant traveler extend beyond staying safe. You notice things you might not otherwise get to experience. When you’re trying not to get lost, you gain a better understanding of the city’s design. When you’re reading the faces of everyone around you to make sure they’re not about to mug you, you notice that people are far more likely to give you a smile than steal your money. As I wandered New York City alone, just watching and listening, I overheard snippets of conversation in half a dozen languages, I saw people laugh and argue and commiserate over the weather, and I was not too distracted to notice that the snowflakes rush through the wide sunny streets in exactly the same way that the people do.
I love traveling, with any amount of companions or none, because I like noticing what I’ve never noticed before. But throughout my adventures of the last year, a goal of mine has been to practice this habit even when I’m not traveling. Alone in New York City, it was easy, but it can be a little harder to be observant and reflective during the daily grind. I’m working on it.
Anyway, more actually TEFL-related posts coming up in the future, I promise!