Bo Peng About Blog Contact

Software Engineering, University of Waterloo

My New York City Experience

Last year, I had an amazing opportunity to live and work in New York City. Throughout the four months, I recorded the memories that made my experience so special.

New York Central Park

Beautiful autumn day at Central Park


I had previously been to New York 2 times in my life. The first time was when I was 11 years old and touring the city with my family in one of those Asian tour busses. I vividly recall the time when I was in awe of the Raging Bull and the terrifying views from the skyscrapers. The second time was when I visited the Addepar New York office for a week. This was actually one of the main reasons why I decided to return to the Big Apple for another internship.

Raging Bull

Me looking awkward in front of the Raging Bull


New York Scraper

Me looking terrified at the Rockefeller Centre observatory


Before heading to New York, I was absolutely hyped to spend 4 months living in the heart of midtown Manhattan. Despite my ridiculously high expectations, New York never failed to amaze me. Over the co-op term, I maintained a Google Doc describing all the non-work things I did in New York. I hope my list can help you generate ideas on what to do or inspire you to travel here. Without further ado, here’s the list!

My Top 5 Highlights

1. World’s Biggest Eye Contact Experiment

Back on a chilly October day, I decided to check out the World’s Biggest Eye Contact Experiment near Bowling Green. Going into the event, I was quite scared. I couldn’t stop thinking of how awkward it would be to look into a stranger’s eyes for a minute. I got over my initial fears and ended up staying there for over an hour. I met 10 new people and learned about their interesting life stories. This was truly an eye opening experience for me (pun intended). We live in a world where it’s typical for us to be more glued to our phones than the people sitting next to us. I believe this event has helped improve my eye contact and communication skills, as well as building more authentic connections with others.

World's Biggest Eye Contact Experiment

2. Macy’s Black Friday Sale

I’ve always read about the craziness of Black Friday in America, so I wanted to check out the chaos in person. I was one of the first 50 people in line at the world’s former largest retail store, Macy’s at Herald Square. I managed to pick up some sweet deals, though the best part definitely was the energetic crowd of people. Would I do this again? Probably not, it’s a bit too hectic for me.

Macy's Black Friday

3. Broadway

While I was in New York, I watched 6 Broadway shows: Les Misérables, Aladdin, Phantom of the Opera, Wicked, On Your Feet, and Chicago. Every show was very entertaining and well worth the money. It was also amazing sharing the Broadway experience with friends visiting from out of town. Did I mention that these 6 shows only costed about $200 total? I got these cheap tickets by entering the online lottery and lining up for rush tickets. Shows left on my to-watch list include Book of Mormon, Lion King, and Hamilton.

Wicked

4. Walking

One of my favourite things about New York is that it’s a walking friendly city. There’s always something going on in the streets, wherever you are, whether it’s food markets, street shows, parades, etc. There are also several beautiful bridges perfect for walking and sightseeing. Despite the busy city and millions of people, I thought midtown Manhattan was one of the safest areas I’ve ever lived in.

5. Friendly People

Finally, last but not least, I was very appreciative of the friendly people working at the front-desk of my apartment and gym. Every day presented new experiences and challenges, but the one thing that remained constant was those people. Whether I had a good or bad day, they always brought enthusiasm and positivity. It was pleasing to hear the words “Good morning, Bo” from Myron every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Expanding on to the concept of friendly people, I was thankful for my friends, my co-workers, and all of the new people I met in New York. They truly made my experience unforgettable.

Friends

Things I did

Art Galleries & Museums

New York City is home to hundreds of art galleries and museums. I wasn’t a huge fan of art, but I think I’ve gained a new perspective after visiting so many exhibitions.

  • Museum of Modern Arts
  • Metropolitan Museum of Art
  • Frick Collection
  • Morgan Library and Museum
  • National Museum of the American Indian
  • Vladmir Kush art gallery
  • A few pop-up exhibitions like this one
  • Bucket list: American Museum of Natural History, Whitney Museum of American Art, 9/11 Museum, Museum of Mathematics

Landmarks & Major Tourist Attractions

If you couldn’t tell already, I love parks and bridges!

  • Parks: Central Park, Bryant Park, Washington Square Park, High Line, Madison Square Park, Union Square
  • Bridges: Brooklyn Bridge, Manhattan Bridge, Williamsburg Bridge, Ed Koch Queensbro Bridge, George Washington Bridge
  • Skyscrapers: Empire State Building, Rockefeller Center, Trump Tower, World Trade Center
  • Landmarks: Times Square, Grand Central Terminal, Charging Bull, Wall Street, Trinity Church, Oculus, 9/11 Memorial, Statue of Liberty, City Hall
  • Flagship stores: Nintendo, Microsoft, Lego, Hershey’s, M & M’s, NBA, stores on 5th Avenue

Other Iconic Places of New York

  • Upper Manhattan: Columbia University, Tom’s Restaurant, Cathedral of St. John the Divine, Harlem, Morningside Park, Washington Heights
  • Upper West Side: Riverside Park, Hudson Riverside, Columbus Circle
  • Midtown: New York Public Library, Chelsea Market, Herald Square, Koreatown, Flatiron Building, Gramercy Park, Stuyvesant Town, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, United Nations HQ, Madison Square Garden, Pennsylvania Station, Port Authority Bus Terminal
  • Lower Manhattan: Greenwich Village, Little Italy, SoHo, Chinatown, Battery Park, Columbus Park, Bowling Green
  • Brooklyn: Dumbo, Brooklyn Heights Promenade, Brooklyn Bridge Park
  • Other boroughs: Roosevelt Island, Flushings, Jackson Heights, Staten Island, Silver Lake Park

Sports

I watched my first live NBA game and live NHL game. Again, the tickets at Barclay’s Center were quite affordable.

  • Islanders game at Barclay’s Center (my first ever hockey game, ended in overtime)
  • Yankees game at Yankee’s Stadium (the game ended on a walk-off home run and I chatted with Tampa Bay bullpen pitchers)
  • Nets game at Barclay’s Center (saw Jeremy Lin play)
  • Watched World Series Game 7 at a sports bar
  • Bucket list: Any game at Madison Square Garden, NFL game

General Entertainment

I checked off a lot of “firsts” with respect to general entertainment, including first concert, first Broadway show, etc. I found that being under 21 somewhat limited my experience, but regardless there was plenty of stuff to do.

  • Several Broadway shows
  • Comedy night at Gotham Comedy Club
  • Karaoke at K-ONE Karaoke Bar in Chinatown
  • Movies at AMC25 near Times Square
  • Snakehips concert at Webster Hall
  • Chvrches concert at Radio City Music Hall
  • Illenium concert at Playstation Theatre
  • Clubbing event at Webster Hall
  • Mini golf at Pier 25
  • Arcade in Chinatown
  • Bucket list: ∞

Miscellaneous

You never really know what to expect in New York City, things just happen.

  • Marched in the annual Halloween Parade
  • Watched Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree hanging
  • Participated in SantaCon by dressing up as Santa
  • Winter Village at Bryant Park
  • Attended school club events at NYU
  • Went shopping for eye glasses in Chinatown with a co-worker
  • Waited at the New York Marathon Finish Line
  • Encountered several Trump rallies following the election
  • Lost $20 after participating in one of those street shows where they jump over you
  • Food markets
  • Office visits: LinkedIn, Bloomberg, Google, Noom, Workbench, Twitter

Food

I was spoiled by all of the food choices in New York, here are some of my favourite places.

  • The Halal Guys
  • Vanessa’s Dumpling House
  • Xi’an Famous Foods
  • $1 Pizza on 43rd and Lexington
  • Little Sheep Hot Pot
  • Hide Chan Ramen, Totto Ramen, Ippudo Ramen
  • Fried chicken & waffle at Amy Ruth’s
  • Omurice at Restaurant Riki
  • Xiao Long Bao at Shanghai Cafe
  • Juliana’s Pizza

Addepar Organized Events

  • Product team offsite at Golden Unicorn and bartending workshop
  • Countless board game nights
  • Golf driving range at Chelsea Piers
  • Trampoline and trapeze workshop
  • Addepar holiday party
  • Charity dodgeball tournament
  • Team dinners at fancy restaurants
  • White Elephant gift exchange
  • Foosball, ping pong tournaments

New York Crowd

Me participating in one of those street shows


Ramen

The usual weekend ramen


Bridges

Proudly loving bridges and parks since '08