“You’re not from New York” is a phrase I’ve heard about 5 times in the month since starting my internship, and those folks are right. Although I absolutely love NYC, it certainly is not anything like Washington, DC, a city that I’m a little more familiar with. I’m heading into my Junior year at the George Washington University’s School of Business, majoring in Marketing and minoring in Graphic Design. Since the start of my internship, I’ve compiled a list of 5 key interesting differences that I have observed between NYC and DC.
1. The Subway/Metro
I will never forget the time when I asked a man in a suit for directions to “the nearest uptown metro stop” when I first came to Manhattan. He just laughed and continued on his way. Evidently, (even though my card screams “MetroCard” in bright blue and yellow letters) New York City travels by ”Subway”—not by “Metro”. Disregarding the confusing markings, and the occasional rat sighting, the NYC subway is a lot more efficient than the DC metro. Not only is it running 24 hours a day, the trains come at much higher frequencies and cover much more of the city. Instead of waiting 17 minutes just to have your train delayed in DC (not including weekends), you only wait 2-3 minutes with an intermittent sigh from a hurried commuter.
2. The Culture
DC loves power and politics. NYC loves power and finance. While both cities are fueled by power, I have noticed that the cultures have evolved around these two divergent paths. In DC, when you walk along Pennsylvania Avenue, you can’t help but think to yourself, “Wow, how great it must be to run for office and hold power over constituents.” However, in NYC passing along skyscraper after skyscraper you think, “Wow, how great it must be to be CEO running this company!” Or maybe that’s just me.
3. The Work
It is interesting to live in both regulation making and regulation abiding places-- especially in a healthcare advertising setting. On one hand, DC sets the regulations, whereas NYC is home to many great healthcare advertising agencies that have to abide by the rules set in DC. It’s a very interesting contrast to witness; on one side, people are excited to write rules and regulations, and on the other side, people (sometimes frustratingly) follow these regulations. Living in both cities makes me appreciate both perspectives. I must say, however, that I think I enjoy the creativity side a lot better than the rule-setting side.
4. The Food
There is nothing–NOTHING–like the food in NYC. There’s so much culinary diversity and excitement that every meal presents a chance for a wonderful and delicious adventure. In DC, although there are some great spots, there are only a handful of really good restaurants and reservations are hard to obtain. What I really enjoy about DC food, however, is the growing popularity of “fast casual” places. If you are ever in the DC area, I highly recommend going to Shophouse, Beefsteak, and Honeygrow.
5. The Arts
The Arts are synonymous with NYC. From Broadway, museums, dance, clubs and music, the arts abound in NYC. I don’t think DC gets enough credit for the arts, though. The Smithsonian Museums (the National Portrait Gallery is my favorite) along with other great museums such as the Newseum, the Hirshhorn, and the Corcoran Gallery are all especially spectacular in my opinion. But here is the biggest difference: the arts are generally free in DC while everything is SUPER expensive in NYC.
They say it takes about ten years to consider yourself a true “New Yorker.” For most people in DC, it takes about the equivalent of a congressional term (2 years). I have come to love both cities as much as my home city of Philadelphia (don’t get me started on those differences!), but they are very different to live in. The contrasts are amazing, and at the end of the day, I have found happiness in both DC and NYC.