You hear the little telltale click on your electronic kettle and rush over to the kitchen to pour the steaming water into your styrofoam cup. Ah, the sweet smell of shrimp and seaweed-infused broth with just a hint of spice. If this is what comes to your mind when you hear the word “ramen,” we don’t blame you—most college students and recent grads live on a steady diet of cup and packaged ramen.
But there’s a whole world out there of fancy ramen restaurants where the chefs slave over fragrant vats of pork broth, pound out perfectly shaped noodles, and garnish each bowl with the attention of a bonsai master trimming a prize-winning tiny tree.
And ramen is but one of the many incredible foods you can experience in New York City. We caught up with recent graduate Jen Le to learn about New York for new grads (and why noodles are an important part of this equation).
Recent grad: Jen Le, New York City
College, major, and graduation date: University at Albany, Bachelor of Science in Human Biology & Chinese, May 2014
Current gig: Operational Excellence Analyst
What brought you to New York City?
I had early goals as a high school sophomore to move to New York City. I decided to move to a college in the state of New York that was relatively close to a couple of cities. I wanted to travel during my semester breaks. Not only did I travel to Manhattan and the four other boroughs of New York City, but I was able to see Boston, Buffalo, Philadelphia, Atlantic City, Washington, D.C., and a few more.
What are the pros and cons of living in New York City?
The best aspect about New York City is that you will never be bored. There is always a place or a new trend or fad to go and see.
The major con of living in the city is the cost of living. It’s not a gentle dig in your wallet. It’s a concrete driller. People should be expecting to pay rent with most of their monthly salary unless they make more than $70,000 a year. Fifty grand as a salary would be considered borderline.
What should a recent grad/twentysomething know about life in your city?
Transportation for the most part is reliable. It’s relatively cheap, but it depends on how often you use it. I use it all the time, so it saves money but not necessarily time. A car wouldn’t make much of a difference on time either, and it is expensive to have a car here. If you plan to stay within the city, you should sell your car and rent one when you plan to do sporadic trips. People with cars have to worry about car insurance, as well as parking and parking fines due to specific rules on specific days and times. If people want to be safe with their cars, then they have to pay for a parking garage, too. It adds up.
The other thing I have to mention about New York City is the food! It’s not as expensive as some people may think. You can find meals under $7. Ramen is huge right now. I’m not talking about the typical college-style ramen, but Japanese gourmet ramen at restaurants that specialize in it (though it can be kind of expensive in Manhattan). There’s a location for any type of food that you can imagine. Italian, Korean, Japanese, Russian, French, Spanish and plenty more are scattered across all five boroughs of New York City.
All in all, the real key to living in the city is patience. I think this actually applies to general life as well.
Photos courtesy of Jen Le