4. Use Uber as a last resort.
Among the things I miss about living in New York City is the subway. It was so fascinating to see the demographics change as the trains traveled across neighbourhoods, and to watch the performers entertain people for donations.
You won’t see any of that in the backseat of an Uber or Lyft car. In fact, despite the privacy and convenience, you will be isolated from vibrancy of the scenes around you.
Yes, every state doesn’t have a train system, and public transportation may add up to an hour to your travel time. However, take the bus once a week so you can soak in the experience of your new home. You will also save some much needed cash as well.
5. Don’t internalise other people’s struggles.
When I first moved to New York City, I was supported by friends who were mostly African-American or of West Indian heritage. Although they taught me how to navigate my environment, they also shared their prejudices.
Within a few months, I was angry at “the system” for being so hard on “us” and wanted little to do with white people. Yet, when I branched out and made new friends of different backgrounds, I learned I had shut myself off from so many wonderful people.
It’s good to sympathise with other people and seek to understand their beliefs but we all have our own paths. As a new immigrant, don’t miss out on great opportunities because you choose to see the world through someone else’s eyes.
6. Understand all black people are not treated the same.
One of the earliest episodes of the Trini Trent Radio podcast was “African-Americans vs West Indians,” which addressed the tensions between said groups. The discussion was inspired by the experiences Terry Torro and I had while living in New York City; a place that supposedly welcomes people of all cultures.
Since then, I have experienced bullying and mockery by some African-American people, both on and offline. I have let go of my anger regarding those encounters but the lesson remains that in America all black people are not always viewed the same way.
Don’t allow those issues to make you bitter. Have compassion for people who try to put you down and encourage your fellow Caribbean people not to respond to negativity with negativity.
7. Leave your prejudices at the door.
Cities such as New York, Atlanta, San Francisco and Los Angeles have vibrant LGBTQ communities who openly express and celebrate themselves. There are pride events and parades, clubs, bars and entire sections of towns where gay, bisexual and transgender people share their creativity.
For a person from a conservative or homophobic Caribbean nation, this could be quite shocking. Regardless, take a second to think before you voice your outrage.
You will be dealing with people who were raised in a state or moved there to freely be themselves. Your prejudice is your issue, not theirs, so be mindful and kind as you navigate this new world.
8. Respect other cultures.
During my first month in New York City, I subconsciously looked down on other people’s cultures with a belief that mine was superior. Once I let that go, the world opened up to me and I had more fun.
Even if you don’t participate in another person’s cultural practices, still respect their beliefs without comparisons to yours or rejecting them completely.
For example, we don’t celebrate Thanksgiving in the Caribbean but there is no need to declare that every time you get invited to an annual get together. Just politely decline if you’re not in the mood for free food.