- Suitcase? – check
- Final draft of probation report sent to supervisors? – check
- Boarding passes printed? – check
- Passport? – check
- Waking up at ridiculous AM in order to take a cab to Birmingham International, fly to Dublin, get through US preclearance (fancy stamps and everything), and board a 7-hour flight to that concrete jungle where dreams are maaade of? – check check check check!
Yes, after neverending weeks of testing, analysing data, writing, re-analysing data, writing, deleting, editing, re-editing, cursing literature reviews… it was finally time to enjoy some time off before my first international conference and the dreaded probation review. And where else would you want to go..?
So, what do you do when you have one week to explore the city that never sleeps? Well, as you can see from the picture above, you basically just don’t sleep. Honestly. What with all the travelling, time zones, and earlier sunsets (not to be underestimated), your body and brain are just very exhausted and confused. Add to that the excitement of actually being in this gigantic metropolis that you usually only see on TV or in the movies, plus skyscrapers, masses of people, shiny lights, Broadway shows…. you get the picture. (Excerpt from my professional travel journal: ‘Day 1 […] superexhaustion […] watch TV, so many ads, advertisers say things’ – I guess this is why I don’t keep journals….)
First things first: Take in the breath-taking panorama views from the Rockefeller Center or the Empire State Building. Seeing just how densely built the city is, feeling the energy, the bustle of the crowds way below you, is just unreal – and the view at night just left us speechless. (‘Day 2 […] Where is the night bus? […] Crazy lady shouts at us […] salvation by other crazy lady who talks about Irish Civil War and Karl Marx […] saved by the bus, where crazy lady #3 shouts at driver for stopping at correct bus stop. I have broken feet’).
Then there’s the monuments. It’s a cliché, but everything really feels (and probably is) bigger and awe-inspiring. Brooklyn Bridge, imposingly spanning the East River. Approaching the Statue of Liberty by ferry, you really feel what a striking sight she must’ve posed to migrants arriving by boat, boasting with promises of justice and freedom. Ground Zero, haunting and intense, yet eerily beautiful with the reflecting pools and buildings. (‘Day 5: I’m exploring New York with an Italian and a Portuguese, yet feel like the least German and efficient one in the group […] police investigations and subway delays wreak havoc on Francisco’s Big Plan […] found tackiest Christmas shop in existence!!!’)
How can you forget the museums on offer? The famous dioramas in the Natural History Museum, the world-renowned art collections in the Met, MoMa, Guggenheim, and there’s even an Intrepid museum (on sea, air & space rather than forensic science, though). This city really has something for everyone, to keep you entertained on a rainy day. (‘Day 7: […] Francisco goes to Niagara and it stopped raining. Correlation or causation..?’)
The bustle, the lights, jazz bars, shows, art, parks … New York is an amazing city that I’d love to visit again, and was the perfect reward after a very busy few months. While I didn’t exactly recharge my batteries, I did leave the city energised and inspired, looking forward to Washington and the NIST International Forensics Symposium.
And finally, I even learnt something for my fellow Aberdonians: We always knew they were out to attack us!