Simone de Beauvoir writes about New York, "there's something in the New York air that makes sleep useless; perhaps it's because your heart beats more quickly here than elsewhere." She had been traveling across the United States for the past four months, recording her adventures in a diary that eventually became published as America Day By Day. And though she saw so much of the nation, she still managed to find beauty in having breakfast at a corner drugstore in New York, which she describes as "participating in a moment of American life."

That's what travel does to you. You learn to enjoy the moments of true immersion at the times you least expect it.

Although living in New York City doesn't seem like an exotic adventure, it's been a fantastic experience for me as well. My home is in Upstate New York, where the fun things to do are swimming in local water holes or apple picking with the family. And coming from Princeton, where we experience a small-town simple lifestyle from day to day, New York City is a huge contrast.

I was reluctant to come here at first. It seemed like a lot of trouble figuring out how to rent an apartment, learning how to navigate the subway system, adjusting to the busyness of urban life. And now, it's been such a highly rewarding experience, I can't imagine having spent my summer anywhere else.

There's nothing like New York when you're young. One of the first weekends I was here, I went to an outdoor concert, and then hung out with friends at a late night pizza joint. We ended the night with a car ride across the Manhattan Bridge, beholding an absolutely breathtaking view of the skyline. Nights like these are irreplaceable to me.

But similarly to Beauvoir, my favorite on my way to work moments have been day-to-day. I love the small touches, from walking through the morning markets of Union Square to finding a random inflatable couch in Washington Square Park and sitting down to chat with some strangers. The street performers always light up my day, too, from brass house bands to electric violinists.

I had lunch with a co-worker the other day, and he told me something I haven't been able to get out of my mind. "Exhaust the travel bug, so when you move in somewhere, you can really move in," he said. Just as you shouldn't marry someone if you still want to date, he told me I should see as much of the world as I could before I settle down.

For me, it's New York. And in the upcoming months, I'll be heading to Australia to study street art and London to study English literature. It's going to be a wild ride, and sometimes I feel overwhelmed by everything I'll come across in the next few months.

But Beauvoir sums it up nicely: "In any case, I'm enjoying this windfall: the days seem too short."

~ Maggie Zhang '16
Managing Editor