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Arriving in New York City

This summer was exciting time for my friends and I — the point in our education where we were tasked with finding an internship for the summer, sending us off to faraway places like London, San Francisco and, for me, New York. This being my first time outside of Canada for an extended period of time, and originally hailing from a town of only 30,000 people, I was quite nervous. I touched down a couple of weeks before I started my internship, and as I got acquainted with the city I was quickly overwhelmed by how many things there were to do. I spent my first week exploring and visiting the obligatory tourist traps — Central Park, the MoMA, and the disappointment that was Times Square — but even after that I still found myself bombarded by choice. One of the most interesting aspects about the city, and something that has always captivated me, is the architecture. I had the privilege to experience many brilliant buildings, such as the Freedom Tower, on a daily basis. Even after numerous views they never lost their awe, and I was still astounded by the fact that humans could create such feats of engineering.

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Joining IDEO

I went into my first day at IDEO hearing a lot about their open structure and culture, their sticky note obsession, and how they’re the nicest people to work with. All of this proved to be true. In fact, the open hierarchy was quite a culture shock for me at first. As someone who is used to having a constant stream of orders and commands, it was freeing to be able to do things of my own accord. Luckily everyone else was eager to help, and they were able to ease me into this type of work environment. As for the people of IDEO, it is one of the most diverse places I’ve gotten to be a part of. Every person there had a unique story, coming from across the globe, from Italy to Singapore, and each with their own life and professional experience — design, business, engineering and beyond. Overall, I am very grateful for what I’ve learned at IDEO. My co-workers and friends at the studio gave me a new way to look at design practice, process, research and helped me learn to view the world, and the people in it, in a more optimistic way.

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Feeling Homesick

As exciting as it was to escape from everything and explore a new part of the world, it got a bit lonely being disconnected from home. I constantly found myself comparing the lifestyle and culture of New York to what it was like back in Toronto. At first this was an exciting feeling as it informed my understanding of this unfamiliar metropolis and gave me a better perspective over how much of the world I still need to experience. However, the more I compared the two cities, the more it made me feel a bit homesick. Overall, I think the hardest feeling to deal with during my journey was being so far from the people I was used to seeing every day, especially my girlfriend. Nevertheless, being half a continent apart wasn’t that bad since we were able to celebrate our anniversary in a more memorable fashion. We decided to be adventurous and try things we could only do in NYC, such as a dinner cruise around Manhattan. In the end the excitement was short lived and it felt like it was over way too soon.

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Discovering the City's Culture

As my first experience traveling for an extended period, I came to New York with the mindset of a tourist. However, I quickly realized there was a lot to be discovered beyond the superficial tourist culture. Being in New York wasn’t just about visiting Times Square or the Empire State Building. It was about visiting new restaurants, rooftop bars, and other unique experiences like drunk Shakespeare, on a regular basis, because this is one of the only cities in the world that is diverse and large enough to do so. I also learned that one of the most captivating aspects of New York, and what makes it one of a kind in the world, is that a good majority of its people don’t originate from here and come from all over the world to live in this city. Each of these people have a unique story about where they came from and why they wanted to be here. I came away from this experience with more meaningful connections and a feeling that New York was a lot more warm and welcoming than what I had expected.

A Grateful Farewell

I can't think of another experience in my life that has had such a profound impact on me as a person. There were multiple moments during my stay where I would just discretely smile to myself after thinking about where I currently was in my life and how happy it made me. I would just think to myself, “I'm actually doing what I love to do in New York City.” Each time I had that thought I endured a small sense of disbelief as I was reminded of that fact, like a goldfish remembering it’s in water. Even a year ago I would never have thought that I would have been here. Overall I am genuinely grateful for everything I’ve learned in this city, and for the people I have met and learned from. I can honestly say that I’m walking away from this chapter in my life with a better understanding of the world and the people in it.