On Quora, a German answered the question: What was your biggest culture shock visiting New York City?
My shocks were mostly negative.
I am German, male and 25. I had travelled to the US quite often and had been to a lot of different places there. I love the US, especially the National Parks. I also love US cities regardless wether they are cheap or expensive.
When a few years ago I came to NYC for the first time I had the expectation that NYC wouldn’t differ more than other cities from how they are shown in movies and tv shows. I was wrong.
I expected NYC to be at least somewhat of a modern and shiny skyscraper city. The secret capital of the US â€“ and â€“ maybe the world. I expected something at least iconic.
Now when I landed at JFK moldy carpets and a worn down airport greeted me. I took the train to Manhattan that overpasses ghettos.
I could not believe how loud and shaky the subway was. The awful state of maintenance. How extremely dirty it is. How bad signs are placed. How counterintuitive everything is made.
Everything must have been great some decades ago but was never kept well. There was no good way to get from one part of the city to another. Taxis are stuck and the subway is disgusting. Busses are worse.
The smell. When I think of NYC I no longer think of lawyers in suits on a rooftop terrace. I think of the strong smell of death â€“ of rotten rat meat.
The garbage. Everywhere. On the streets. I mean black sacks full of garbage to be picked up in few hours stinking and leaking.
How unimpressive 5th Av is. Or Times Square.
The skyline is really not so impressive or iconic if you have been to Hongkong or other places.
I was amazed by the the awful German translations on the large signs of the 9/11 sight. I always thought that this was a place of big importance and that NYC would not use Google translator to greet the world when they are visiting to show respect.
You might think that I am exaggerating and describing things that one could look over. Maybe. But I am just trying to justify my disappointment.
The poor quality of life and the huge costs. You can park your car in NYC for a few hours for a couple of hundred dollars. But why would anyone consider it worth it? You can live in a shoebox and do your laundry in a nearby laundromat? What good reason is there to do that? The prices felt very artificial. Now if there was a demand justifying these prices I would shut up. But for good reason there actually isn’t.
NYC was a big disappointment for me. It is just another US city. I did not feel safe. I was simply asking myself why anyone would want to spend so much money for such a bad quality of life.
Read the whole thing.
This German chap is perfectly right. New York City has been declining in governance, liveability, and affordability since WWII. He doesn’t realize, though, that the city is actually cleaner, less smelly, and less crime-ridden since the time of Giuliani.