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While I was reading the New York Post I strolled across an article named “East Village thugs beat pop star.” I was immediately interested in the story! As I began reading I discovered that the pop singer was Gavin DeGraw who I happen to be a huge fan of. Apparently DeGraw was viciously beaten by a pack of thugs in the East Village early Monday morning, and then hit by a taxi driver as he stumbled off. Honestly, I wasn’t too surprised reading this story because after living in New York City for a summer I’ve realized that you have to be extremely careful and travel in groups. You never know a persons intention late at night when you are walking home or at any point of the day for that matter. I thought this article tied in well with New York living because beatings like this happen on a daily basis but you don’t usually hear about a popular pop star being the victim!
I came upon many differences while learning about the diverse areas New York City has to offer. Throughout each of the locations such as Madison Ave, Broadway and Wall Street I saw a variety of different cultures and ethnic backgrounds. The great thing about New York is that everyone is very diverse so it makes it very interesting to see everyone coming together into one place. Broadway seemed to be the most diverse. Many of the Broadway theatres I traveled too this summer were in Times Square so the people were from all different cultures. People come from all over the world to see Broadway plays such as Wicked and the Lion King so all the tourists that were surrounding the area didn’t surprise me. Even the actors and actresses were people of all different races. Wall Street was a little different then the rest because it was mostly businessmen. When we walked into the New York Stock Exchange it seemed like 90% of the people working there were white males, but when we walked along Wall Street I noticed a lot of Asians, which I found surprising. Through the Elon in NY program I have learned how important it is to understand the diversity that goes on all around you. I think it would be impossible to work in NYC and not have an appreciation for people of other races because it is a melting pot of people from different cultures and ethnic backgrounds.
Reflecting back on all the visits, presentations and experiences throughout the summer I am very pleased with the turnout. I ended up learning way more about New York City and the real world than I thought was possible. Each Monday offered new insight into the business world and I now have a greater appreciation for working. It’s a lot of hard work but it is all worth it in the end. Some of the places and people our teachers hooked us up with were unreal. I also thought it was great how we were able to talk to Elon alumnae and see their current statuses and how they got to the place they are now.
My perception before coming to New York City is completely different from what I actually experienced. I thought NYC was going to be much more glamorous and convenient then living in my house in Rhode Island but I came to discover that there are in fact NOT stars that roam all the streets and that everything is ridiculously expensive. It seems pretty ridiculous to say this but I wasn’t able to go out that much either because I had so much work from my internship and then homework for class. During the week I would usually wake up round 8 and sometimes not get back until 9:30, the only thing I wanted to do at that point was go to sleep. I didn’t realize how stressful and hot it was going to be either. I tried walking to work most days to avoid paying for the subway but most of the time it was unbearable. On the weekends I went home a lot to see my family considering I don’t get to see them doing the school year. It ended up being much more hectic than I anticipated. Overall I absolutely loved it though, I thought it was an amazing experience and I am so lucky I was able to do this Elon In NYC program. My roommates were amazing and we made the most out of our time together in New York. My favorite part was watching the fireworks with them at BrassMonkey on The Fourth of July.
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Times Square distinguishes itself from every other business area of New York and has become the “outdoor” version for new ways to communicate and advertise in a vast metropolis. Times Square brash and seductive signs reel in people from all over the world. The pedestrian environment has become a show in itself with the hectic created public atmosphere. Times Square has always served as the commercial center of the city, where people gathered to share both good news and bad. It is the international center for culture ablaze in neon and filled with the excitement of opening negates.
As a first visitor at age ten I was taken in by the excitement and eye candy. Spending my summer interning at MTV, whose office house at Viacom is in the center of it, I quickly learned that visiting and working there on a daily basis was a completely different experience.
Initially I was completely invested in the district and decided to choose it as my ethnographic research area. I figured I would have the opportunity to explore the area every single day from commuting to work so I would be able to grasp a physical and mental sense of it. Hot, crowded, shoved, pushed, stopped to ask for directions and to take photos all became old quick. The mass media has a way of portraying unrealistic images and Times Square is no stranger to this. I remember watching Good
Morning America and TRL growing up and thinking how I couldn’t wait to live in New York City so I could visit Times Square.
After observing a sense of the area for two months I now know that it is an amazing place for tourists to come visit and sightsee, but not a place I would recommend being a local of. For some reason the quote, “You’ll never understand a person until you walk a mile in their shoes,” came to mind when thinking about Times Square. Before working in the area I had a skewed perception that it was all about
flashing lights, celebrities and endless opportunities now I realize that you need to know the right people and market yourself in order to be successful or else you will get sucked into the tourist crowd.
After all the in-depth research and personal experience of working in the area I would highly recommend a person to travel to Times Square just to see all the attractions but I wouldn’t recommend staying there for a long period of time or working there. It has its perks such as you see some pretty ridiculous things, for example one day while I was walking to work I saw a man trying to promote an album on top of a light pole. I’ll tell you right now, I wouldn’t find anything that bizarre sitting on my couch at home in Rhode Island.
When I was first explained the ethnographic research project I was very excited because this meant I would be able to explore the city and become aware of things I would have never recognized. Once I started my research and tried to get some valid information I realized it was going to be much harder than I thought. After work one day I decided to go around to different stores and see if I would interview some people. About seven of the ten people I asked basically told me they didn’t want to be bothered. I’m happy they denied me though, because it just made me realize the type of attitude people in Times Square have. Everyone is looking out for himself or herself. One day I went out to lunch with an older woman that worked in the Viacom building with me, as soon as we stepped out the door a man asked her to take a picture of him with his family. She gladly accepted than later told me that that was the nicest thing she has ever done for anyone in Times Square. She has been working on 1515 Broadway for fifteen years now and I couldn’t believe that she considered that the nicest thing she had done for anyone in the area since she started working there.
That was two months ago when that happened and reflecting back I realize now it makes sense. Everyone is stingy and in a hurry in Times Square. I’ve discovered that half the people are either tourists or work in the area and are trying to get by the masses of people in their way. I really thought people would have a better attitude than I experience but over time I just realized that it was the culture of Times Square.
This made me re-think every assumption I ever had of Times Square. I thought back to all the times I would run back from school to watch TRL and see Carson Daley overlooking the glamorous background or the ball dropping every New Years and seeing rosy cheeked people smiling on camera. I realized how my views were completely subjective back than because I had only been exposed to what the mass media was showing me. When I was ten years old my mom took me to Toys R Us, Hard Rock Café and the Naked Cowboy and I thought it was the greatest thing ever. After passing each of these landmarks on a daily basis I realized it’s all in what you make it.
Marketers and reporters portray Times Square completely different than what it appears. On TV they may only display the bright advertisements but they won’t zoom in on the thousands of people trampling over each other. This ethnographic research made me realize that the grass isn’t always greener on the other side, which I think is an important lesson in life. For the past ten years I’ve been praying for the opportunity to work in the “Crossroads of the World,” but now that I have I realize there is so much more out there for me to take advantage of. It also gave me the confidence that proves to me I can do anything if I set my mind to it. After working in such a busy crowded environment where everyone speaks a different language I am able to communicate more easily with people and I have more patience.
I have realized that ethnographic research is both objective and subjective because you can perceive something as one way but then see it a completely different way based on the type of person you are. If someone were to have only observed Times Square for two weeks I can guarantee that their
thoughts and views would be completely different than mine solely based on the fact that I have had more time to experience the area from all outlets. I have been completely dedicated to my role as an ethnographic researcher and I have been breathing in morning and night the experiences I have encountered. I could easily tell someone that the busiest time for someone to be in the area is around 6:00 because that is when everyone is getting out of work so it begins to get really hectic. Everyday I see different faces and routines I’ve realized that you have to expect the unexpected but that’s the beauty of Times Square.
In conclusion, I realized that Times Square wasn’t as glamorous at MTV and other popular television stations portrayed it at but that it was much more that that, it has the ability to connect people from all around the world to a common ground. The diversity that I experienced just standing on the street during lunch break was breathtaking. There is something about the amazing advertisements that sucks in people from all different countries. That in itself is pretty spectacular.
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My first interview was with an overly friendly girl who worked at Charles Tyrwhitt in Time Square. It was in mid June and I had just left work when it started raining cats and dogs. I had no umbrella so I was looking for somewhere to take cover until the rain let down a little. Fortunately I was right next to a men’s shop and father’s day
was just around the corner. I began talking to the girl helping me and we ended up getting along really well. She picked out a beautiful blue tie for my dad so I figured it would be acceptable for me to ask for an interview. She was just about to get off of
work so she said she would meet me at Starbucks around the corner in ten minutes. It seems crazy but every little connection you make with someone goes a long way. We began chatting and I discovered that her full name was Kathleen Collins and she was a student at Laboratory Institute of Merchandising in Manhattan. I began asking her a series of questions such as what made her come to school in New York City down to what her favorite place to eat was. Kathleen told me that she aspired to be a fashion designer and thought New York City would be a great place to lay down a foundation. She began explaining her school schedule and it was very interesting to see how to find out how different Elon’s was. Each semester at school she is required to do an internship. Her first internship was at Bloomingdales in midtown but she said it got old really fast. She has been working at Charles Tyrwhitt since January of this year. I asked her what it was like working in Times Square and she had some very insightful answers. Monday through Fridays businessmen will come into the store looking for beautifully tailored shirts, suits, shoes and accessories. That all changes come the weekend because the only type of business they receive is from
tourists who can barley speak English. Kathleen said people would go into the dressing room without asking her and basically ruin the shirts by throwing them around and not taking care of the material properly. The businessmen come into the store knowing exactly what they want, but when the tourists come in they have no idea what they are doing. She has worked in the retail business for four years in New York City and she thinks Times Square is it’s own little world. The CEO of the company actually just wrote her a personalized birthday card thanking her for all of her hard work and offered her a job at the London location next summer. Katheleen just turned twenty-one and is entering her senior year of college. She is extremely fortunate to have this opportunity because she already secured a job before her senior year of college. Although Times Square has its perks such as running into opportunities like the one she just received, she told me that her friends will call her saying that they are going to stay in Times Square for the weekend so she should meet them but Kathleen can’t seem to understand why anyone would want to stay in that area. She said the last thing she receives when she goes to Times Square is a welcoming feeling so she doesn’t get why anyone would freely want to travel and stay there for an extended amount of time. When she first moved to New York she said the first place she wanted to go was the huge Forever 21 that just opened in Times Square. To people who aren’t familiar with the area Times Square seems like a fun attractive place but once you have experienced it you see it for it’s true colors, which is hectic chaos.