Wow! So today, July 1st 2016 – just about 35 weeks pregnant with a little baby boy; I’m sitting on my POÄNG chair from IKEA, in my new apartment in Elmhurst, Queens – thinking back….
Five years ago, I left behind my old apartment in Copenhagen and what I thought would also be my entire life in Denmark.
I never returned. Well, it’s not completely true because I did have to go back for a couple of weeks to finish my dissertation at Copenhagen Hospitality College. And also, to get my F-1 visa. But I never came back to live in Denmark. New York City was a fantasy and a dream that manifested itself in a goal once I hit the streets of 8th avenue and 40th street back in 2006. No one believed me when I said I wanted to call NY home. No one took me serious. I don’t blame them.
But; I made it happen and now I can say I’ve lived in New York for five years and by no means do I regret making the move. There’s no feeling of being “home sick”. There never was.
Yes, life is hard and I don’t live a glamorous New York City life. I live a paycheck-to-paycheck kind of lifestyle like the majority of real new yorkers but I’m happy. There’s no security blanket like there would have been had I continued living in Denmark but there’s a multitude of opportunities just waiting to be explored. A variety of options that I can choose between and see where it leads me. I’m not scared of the future. I get super emotional at times but I know that once you put your mind to something … you really can achieve a lot!
Looking back at the 5 years… what did I achieve? Well, first of all finding an apartment in New York City with a visa is tricky. And due to the fact that I couldn’t enter the US on a F-1 visa more than 30 days in advance of my studies I decided to make the “move” on my ESTA before getting my F-1 visa. (Do not do this. This is not the right way to go about it)
I knew I wanted to live in Forest Hills, Queens. This is an above-average-rent area. But I had fallen in love with the neighborhood the year before and it just seemed to be the right fit.
I managed to convince a board, and a management company that I was capable of paying rent on time and that I would be a wonderful tenant. I did have to put 4 months rent down as security but I had a little money saved up. It wasn’t easy … it did take several weeks to find the right place and until then I was staying with a friend. When I finally moved in I was extremely happy.
I lived in this place until 10 days ago, when my landlord had the nerves to “give a 30 day notice” because he wanted to sell the apartment. It broke my heart. Don’t take the home away from a pregnant woman.
Anyways – found a new place in Elmhurst, a completely different neighborhood (cheaper, yes!) and I’m going to be a big girl about it and learn to love it too.
I started school in January 2012. Paying tuition was very, very hard. Yes, I did receive financial help from the danish government but it barely stretched enough. I have no clue how I managed to get through the many semesters of “double tuition” because I was international student. But I did.
In 2014 my boyfriend and I decided to get married. It was a City Hall wedding. It’s $60. It made sense. And later that year I also got my permanent residency (aka. Green Card)
In 2015, I graduated with honors. In 2015 I also decided to focus 110% on my own business I had slowly built over the years. It’s a online concierge & sightseeing platform providing danish tourists with quality travel advice and unique experiences in New York City. I also started a more international version of it but then ….
I found out I was pregnant in December 2015. I was already 7 weeks along. I blamed my recent, frequent flying (as a mystery shopper in airports) to my constant headaches and nausea. We didn’t plan or expected to have children so it became a huge surprise.
So I decided to start working extra jobs to care and plan for our future with a child. That lead me to working part-time at an attorney’s office. A completely different experience, and so far from my educational background. I was there for six months. Yesterday was my last day, and my sweet co-workers got balloons, cake and giftcards for me. That really touched my heart a lot!
Now, with a due date of August 6 I’ve decided to take it a little easy the last month. Since the news of being pregnant, I’ve juggled three different jobs to save up for this baby and for maternity leave. I don’t want to leave our baby at day-care if I can avoid it. So my focus is back 110% on my own business and whatever other small side-gigs a ‘hustling new yorker’ might come across. Next year I can apply for citizenship. But my little baby boy will be born as an automatic dual-citizen of Denmark and America. (He’ll never know the struggle … Lol!)
Living 5 years in New York City taught me patience, confidence, humbleness … it caused me a lot of grief and a lot of happy tears. And yeah … this is my home! It’ll always be my home!