Virtuous cycle

Bartlomiej Owczarek weblog

You are currently browsing the Virtuous cycle weblog archives for tag 'usa'.

Return to 'Virtuous cycle' home page

New York encounters

To start with something profound, the best thing about the trip to the US were not the buildings and the museums, but rather the people that I had the opportunity to meet. From the very start I was planning to meet –

Jacek

– right after I published the pictures I received complaint from him that he is nowhere to be seen. So I make up for this below.

New York, Jacek

I met Jacek when we were going to the same class in the high school – i.e. before I skipped the year and had a different class:) Jacek chose technical studies, then moved to the US to study some more, and then decided that he wants to work in business. It was long way, but now he works for Deloitte.

I was considering whether it would make sense at some point of time to work in the US. Jacek was pondering whether it made sense for him to go to the US, if guys working in Poland, like myself, seem to make out quite well and can even afford to come and hang around as tourists.

In the first hostel I was staying I met

Justyna

She works during the day, then in the evening she is a hostess, then she works some more during the weekend. All this to pay for the studies in Amsterdam.

I was impressed with Justyna, maybe we will have a chance to meet in Poland.

And then, everywhere you can meet some friendly people, like

The Chinese shopkeeper

Every morning in NY I visited a shop next to the subway station to buy my breakfeast, namely three bananas and a can of coke. Then I discussed with the Chinese lady the plan for the day. My days in NY always had a good start thanks to her.

Not to mention…

…guys from Israel, Paolo from Portugal, the Navy veteran, African lady in the subway…

Pictures from the US trip

I managed to upload the pictures from the US – can be found HERE.

It shouldn’t take so much time but it does.

Top surprises in the US

Like Americans coming to Europe and finding themselves surprised by everything, so was I in the US, to some extent, so I prepared my own list of (selected) surprises:

  • It turned out that youth hostels in the US are often used by seniors, rather than by ?youth?, vide my room mate, 79-year old Navy veteran arrived to NYC for a bike race
  • Every guy I met claimed that he had or at least used to have a Polish girlfriend – including the Navy veteran
  • As for unpleasant surprises, prices are quoted without tax; that is probably due to different taxes in different states and therefore understandable, but still hard to get used to
  • Spanish is heard everywhere ? on the street, in fast foods, but also in advertisements ? as if it was a second official language
  • Americans cope with terrible, from the European point of view, performance of their mobile networks ? ?Cingular, the fewest dropped calls? ? dropped calls, what you mean dropped calls? When I was texting my friend, messages arrived only after hours, or not at all
  • For some reason that I would be interested to know, Americans love clamshells phones, which are not so popular in Europe, or at least in Poland
  • People crossing on the red light right in front of the policemen. I was told by a friend: “Here it?s unimaginable that a pedestrian could get a ticket, tickets are for drivers!?

You never know until you go

Because I forgot to prolong my reservation early enough, I had to move out of my first hostel in NYC, West End Studios, and get a second one – Hostelling International at 891 Amsterdam Avenue, i.e. just couple of blocks away.

The difference between both hostels is staggering – now I consider West End Studios to be probably the worst place to stay in NY! I will post pictures for comparison when I have some time. The guys may be cheating with online reviews, though, for they have so many positive ones at hostels.com, that I find it quite surprising. Even though some realistic ones can be found after some search elsewhere, e.g. here.

As a result, then, I’m staying in a decent hostel now, a reward for my carelessness, quite as usual.

First night in NYC

A day before, I booked online first three nights at West End Studios in upper Manhattan. Something over 30$ a night, a shared room. Felt uneasy, but on site everything turned out to be manageable, even if as rough as expected.

The location is very favorable from tourist point of view, as it is very close to the subway. I share room with two Israeli guys who just finished the military service.

And now that I got accustomed to this premises already, I learned that there might no free places for the rest of the week (I forgot to prolong earlier, of course). Maybe I will be compelled to find something new.

Leaving St. Charles

I left St. Charles after my first training there, which took the whole last week.

I don?t know how the campuses of Microsoft, Google, etc. look like, but they must be somehow similar to Q Center in St Charles. Away from the city, environment created by spacy buildings and their green surroundings leave little to distract from work. I?m not sure if I would like it, but it seems productive.

St Charles Q Center

In any case, I wouldn?t survive long on the diet they are serving here. I thought I could any amount without any adverse effect, but here I could feel how each bite is taking my slenderness out of me.

I met a nice Brazilian girl on the last day. She was going to visit New York as well, but got scared off by hotel prices. 150$ minimum, she said. How can you go to New York not even knowing where would you sleep? Hey, that’s exactly the way I was going to go there.

Sights of downtown Chicago

The training is over, and I finally have some time to update on the last week.

We used all Sunday, just before the training, to walk around downtown Chicago. The weather was favorable, even though we got to know what “windy city” stands for – in the morning we got sun burned while spending some time on the shore, whereas in the evening we were freezing on our way back.

The Chicago for us was mostly about skyscrapers. It’s a birthplace of skyscrapers, after all.

Chicago Temple Building, located close to where we started, attracted our attention first, with its Sky Chapel high above.

Chicago Temple Building

More photos below. (read more…)

First time in the US

Firstly, trip to Frankfurt, then, 9 hours flight to Chicago. Travelling fatigue worse even than in case of trains to Wroclaw, but in the end I made it to here – first time in the US.

Surprises at the airport, first on how dirty it looks, then with our reservation in the hotel, which turns out to be in the suburbs, instead of downtown, oups, someone reserved the wrong hotel – but no problem, we will take a cab.

We take the cab, it gets lost in the dark suburb.

Only after some circling around we find our hotel. Inside we see a presbyterian gathering – lots of people with colorful badges are all around, some of them carry peculiar oversized golden plastic trophies; we wonder what their purpose might be.

It’s too late to go to the city, so we go for a beer to the bar downstairs. They don’t want to sell us beer, because we have no IDs to prove we are eligible. Not even corporate credit cards impress them. We go back for IDs, get beer, sit and listen to the American accent all around us.

It’s interesting that, so far, Americans that we meet hardly understand our English, and vice versa. It adds funny twist to every conversation.

The next day, we take a cab to downtown Chicago, for a whole day sight seeing.

Cab to downtown Chicago

To be continued.