Toto, I don’t think we’re in Azusa anymore! 

New York City is a contrast of beauty, loneliness, struggle and strength. When I think of this metropolis, I hear the rhythmic swiping of a MetroCard, I see swarms of tourists and New Yorkers and I taste the iconic greasy New York pizza. 

I also think of all the adventures and funny stories I collected while living there for a semester through the study away program at King’s College. A question I am often asked is what the most “New York” experience I had is. The moment that immediately pops into my head is a night full of crowds, malfunctioning subway systems, interesting people and laughter. 

It was Halloween. I decided to brave the night with my friend Tessa who had moved to New York City to study acting. I looked up safe activities to do for the night as my school had put out a warning that there was a spike in crime in cities and many incidents of alcohol abuse on Halloween. 

Tessa and I planned to go to CUNY’s haunted house and the annual NYC Village Halloween Parade. We started out the evening by getting lost on the way to the haunted mansion. This is an all too common occurrence because tall buildings are constantly blocking your GPS signal. We saw lots of cute little children dressed up as superheroes and princesses. 

The next stop was the NYC Village Halloween Parade. People wore their best costumes and “paraded” around for everyone as floats and various ghoulish creatures walked by. The best costumes I saw were the Ghostbusters in their van, a jellyfish with flashing lights and a scary Maleficent. Other hits included a bubble-blowing float that gave out free t-shirts. 

Trying to leave early was the hardest part. We had to get on the subway and it was getting late. There were so many people, but we managed to elbow our way through an extremely tight crowd. 

After escaping, I asked a police officer if it was worth it to get on the subway. He told me that the subway platform was so full of people that it would be hours before we got home. 

We walked five blocks just to find a taxi. An hour passed before we finally were able to crawl into an Uber. As soon as we got in the car, Tessa and I started laughing. Of course it would have been hard to get home! How could we have expected anything else?

According to Bloomberg, there are 8.4 million people living in New York City. It felt like half of them were at the parade on Halloween. 

The night itself was an epitome of how indescribable the city of New York really is: flashing lights, enormous crowds, long commutes and unpredictability. But there is truly a hidden beauty in the people and stories of the city that never sleeps, and the excitement it brings about. For this reason, my study-away experience in New York City will always have a place in my heart.