By Tamika Burgess
Moving from Southern California to Brooklyn is a culture shock for even the most well-traveled people. Before I moved, no one gave me any practical advice, like how to know which way is uptown when getting out of the subway downtown – where street numbers don’t exist.
Instead, all I heard was common sense like, “it’s cold there,” “it’s expensive,” or “you’re not going to like it.”
I’m still somewhat of a newbie, (which is the local vernacular for New Brooklynite, but I am learning lessons about the city every day. Here is some of the advice I learned.
If you’re planning on moving to Brooklyn soon, this advice is hopefully more helpful than “just grab a coat” and “walk fast.”
Know Where You’re Going.
Unless you plan to take a cab everywhere, transportation in Brooklyn can be confusing. For your own sanity, map out your destination before leaving home.
I always figure out what subway(s) or bus I need to take. I also put the address in my cell phone so I can map my walking directions. Because there’s nothing worse than coming up from the subway and not knowing where to go.
This also saves me time and I don’t draw unnecessary attention to myself by looking lost.
Be Prepared for the Weather.
In California, scarves and hats were mostly worn as accessories. Once I moved here, I quickly learned those items can (and will) be a part of your everyday wardrobe.
I wasn’t sure exactly what I needed during the winter months so I asked a friend to go shopping with me. Getting help for someone that has experienced a New York City winter is the best way to go.
My friend helped me pick a heavy coat and taught me why layering my clothes is so important. She also helped me out with my footwear — explaining why it was necessary to have rain boots, snow boots, and the correct walking shoes.
Always Have Cash Handy.
This is something that is still very new for me. I am so used to just using my debit card everywhere. But it’s important to have cash for cabs, street vendors, and corner stores with card minimums.
Stay Safe & Be Cautious!
Moving to a new city can be scary. You don’t know what areas to stay away from or what areas become unsafe at night. As with anywhere you live, you have to stay observant.
When venturing into a new neighborhood I am always attentive, especially at night. If I am alone, I try to walk near groups of people. I don’t use my headphones and I keep my cell phone put away.
Even though I feel my neighborhood is pretty safe, you never know, especially in a city of 2.5 million people. I would also recommend you have a cab company’s phone number stored in your cell phone just in case.
Some of the things people told me about Brooklyn did end up being true. But the most important thing to do is enjoy it. It’s a fun place with plenty to do, but living here is what you make of it.
The main thing is to do what makes you comfortable and be smart about it. Once you get into a routine and find out what works best for you, you’ll fit in.