Tales from the Big Apple…

‘hurricane Sandy was on a path of destruction…’

Just when I thought I was getting into the swing of this American lifestyle the wind swept the rug from beneath my feet, blew travel plans out of proportion and my parade was rained on (excuse all the above weather puns).

As I write this, it is Tuesday and the worst has thankfully passed – classes are cancelled and the university is disserted, tumbleweed style.

From mid last week hurricane Sandy was on a path of destruction and disturbance throughout the East Coast of America hitting the states of Massachusetts and New York the worst. A combination from hot and cold winds from the North and East, the 1000 mile wide natural disaster caused homes to be evacuated, torrential floods, tree fallings, flooding subway line, building damage and much more.

However I am, and was safe, during the storms. It was nothing a Scottish gal couldn’t deal with “just a little bit of wind and rain eh” said a fellow Scotsman. I did have a slight worry I would be trapped in the city due to transport closures but we had a rescue ride home to Long Island.

Louise and I, (another GCU journalism student) were travelling back from a weekend in Boston on Sunday. We knew the storm was to hit New York but we thought we were safe as it wasn’t due to come until Monday.

We had tried to get an earlier bus to Manhattan to be able to catch the last train back to Long Island before they shut down transport at 7pm, however all seats were booked, even a persuasive talk with the ticket lady didn’t work!

“Thank you for riding this bus to New York, with traffic congestion we will not be arriving in New York City until 7.30pm at the earliest,” said the driver.

This left us in a sticky situation when we arrived– we either had to stay in the city (where sandy was to hit worst), stay in a school for evacuated homes or find some way of getting a ride.

Connections arose and Louise was able to phone a distant family member who came to pick us up in the centre of Manhattan – absolute life savers. The couple who are in their 50s had managed to get a parking space next to 34th street (one of the busiest streets in the city) and waited for us to get off the bus. The feeling of being safe in their car that night made me so grateful and lucky as we drove through the panic stricken streets.

The city was like a movie scene, and more than usual. Cars, taxis, people were going in all directions – they had safe places to be and that wasn’t in the South of Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens.

Louise and I made it home safely thanks to her family members. Just in time for the bridges and tunnels closing at 9pm.

The winds picked up on Monday afternoon. I watched from inside as trees fell, leaves blew everywhere and the rain battered down.

‘The city was like a movie scene, and more than usual’

No one was allowed out of their dorm buildings. We had power cuts, no internet towards the end of the day, no signal – making it all very stressful for family and friends back home trying to get in touch.

The one small kitchen (as all the students on my block use the diner) was packed with hungry students furiously burning noodles, battling with one microwave and one stove. Some of the Asian students were well prepared making sushi, I however, was not, but managed to survive off cereal bars and cheesy pasta (nothing new there really).

As scary as it seemed at the time, being in Manhattan wondering how I would get home or inside my room watching the hurricane strike the buildings and trees around me, I have been part of hurricane history. Just another life experience I can add to the list from studying abroad.

If there’s one thing I could say about studying abroad it is that it’s not about being away in a different country and living the holiday lifestyle over four months or a year, it’s about growing up fast and learning to deal with situations by yourself.

I’m not going to lie, I am pretty independent and have lived away from my parents since 1st year of university, but being 19 and miles away from home in a different country has been difficult. You have to be able deal with problems that occur along the way, it’s been a good life learning experience if nothing else. This weekend, while standing stranded in New York city made me realize this, as my parents or friends weren’t there to pick me up!

My heart goes out to all the people affected by the hurricane. Let the clean up begin. Goodness, city life is hard sometimes.

Hayley Parr

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