A Traveler’s Guide to Acting Like a New Yorker

A Traveler’s Guide to Acting Like a New Yorker

Few cities (if any) in world history have had the style, character and cultural significance of New York. It is the center of modern commerce, culture, entertainment and art, and the city itself has a unique personality and character that is known around the world. The collective style and attitude of the city’s 8 million residents give it this personality, and it can be difficult for any non-New Yorker to duplicate the same traits.

However, it is not impossible for those from the outside world to act like a New Yorker. Even if you have never been to the city, there are steps you can take that would help you fit in once you do make it there. While stepping into the Big Apple for the first time can be intimidating for anyone, knowing how to act as if you belong is the first step to actually becoming a true New Yorker.

The Attitude
New Yorkers have a reputation for being direct and assertive to the point of being rude. While this stereotype is somewhat overblown in the minds of non-residents, it is not totally undeserved or inaccurate. The pace of life in New York moves much faster than anywhere else in the world, and those who live there stay in a constant state of forward motion. This means they are generally too busy to be bothered with anything that is not directly related to their immediate goals, unless it can be handled very quickly.

That is to say, New Yorkers can be perfectly helpful and pleasant, but their interactions will be brief, direct and to-the-point. Most citizens of the city will be willing to help if asked for directions, but they will give them quickly and will not be bothered to repeat them. You must also remember that traffic incidents, obscene public actions, scams, cons and everything in between are commonplace on the streets of New York. New Yorkers have seen it all, and there are few things in life that will phase them or fool them.

This attitude of assertiveness, skepticism and efficiency is the defining characteristic of New Yorkers as a whole. It can take many years to fully acquire and appreciate this New York attitude, but you can fake it till you make it.

The Look
New York is the undisputed fashion capital of America and perhaps the most stylish city in the world. Even the average New Yorker has a certain effortless style and fashion sense that is hard to duplicate for non-residents. However, there are a few simple strategies you can follow to adopt a New York look.

- Study citizens in the trendier parts of the city (or the area with which you most identify) and try to dress like them.
- While comfort and functionality are important in your wardrobe, you should always be aware of how you look. New Yorkers have an uncanny sense of balancing fashion and function, but you should err on the side of style.
- Dress appropriately for the season, weather and location. Do not wear a heavy coat in spring or a short skirt in midwinter. Similarly, only dress up when going to an event that warrants it.
- When in doubt, keep it simple. Aside from when they go to work or an event, most New Yorkers will dress casually.

Blending In
The key to acting like a New Yorker is to blend into the massive crowds of the city, and this is not as difficult as many tourists make it out to be. Just remember that everyone has much more important stuff to worry about than looking at you, and you do not have to try too hard. Keeping your head down, minding your own business and staying out of the way of others are keys to a acting like a New Yorker.