A French in New York City in 10 facts

nycAlmost two years in NYC, and the Frenchie that I am has never felt more French, or more American. Let me explain. Being so far away from home made me realize how French I was and how much my country’s traditions were well rooted in me. However, the more I live in NYC, the more I feel like a true New Yorker. It doesn’t matter where you’re from, what matters is where your heart is. And right now, my heart is in NYC.

Being an expat, I can’t help but comparing the culture I was raised in and the culture I now know. The country that gave birth to me, and the country that I now call home. The friends who’ve been part of my life forever and the friends I made as an adult. So here are a few differences I noticed about me the past couple of years. Differences in language, behavior, reactions. Because moving abroad and leaving everything you know behind might not fundamentally change who you are but it fundamentally changes your life.

 

europe1. I no longer say France, Spain, or the UK (although since the Brexit happened, I probably should!). I say Europe. I understand now why people coming from America don’t just visit one country but rather travel around the Old Continent. It makes total sense now. Europe is like this one big country to me. Now that I live in the US, I realize how similar European cultures are. You just need to step outside of Europe to realize it. Experiencing that big a shift in perspective is amazing.

 

nail-salon

2. I go to the nail salon ALL THE TIME! 10-minute massage? Yes. Mani-pedi? Yes yes yes! You’ll find them at every corner; it’s an institution here. No need to make appointments and spend a fortune on treatments, you can feel rejuvenated in 10 minutes and it will cost you 15 dollars. Now I wonder how I could live without them my whole life.

 

 

3. I stopped apologizing all the time. I should mention that I spent 5 years in London, where the only interaction nyc-subwayyou’ll see on the subway or on the street is “sorry” and “thanks”. That being said, I also stopped apologizing for who I am. You’re free to be who you are in this country. American people are unapologetic and I like that. I love how they easily talk to you, speak their mind and think aloud, even for the socially awkward me. Which brings me to number 4.

 

4. I talk to people and people talk to me. On the street, at the grocery store, everywhere. At first, I was never too sure if I should reply or start a conversation, but now I just go with the flow and talk back even when I know they’re just thinking out loud.

 

credit5. I have a bunch of credit lines. Like any good European, I didn’t want anything to do with credit, but eventually surrendered when I realized there was no way around it! You have to build your “credit score” (the score shows how reliable you are when it comes to paying your bills) in order to do anything. I have 4 credit lines to this day.

 

6. I tip everyone, everywhere. This is something I do because I have to, but I seriously hate it. You cannot go the tippinghairdresser’s, the spa or the restaurant without having to tip around 20%. Even the guys bagging your groceries expect a tip at my local supermarket. Everywhere you go, you’ll see people begging for a dollar. Even though service is included in Europe, I became a great tipper there too, force of habit!

 

carrie-hot-day7. The AC is my best friend. You cannot live in NYC without one, it’s become part of my life and I simply couldn’t live without it (in the summer, that is). Summer in NYC is extremely hot and humid, nothing like what I experienced before.

 

 

 

8. I celebrate Thanksgiving. And I love it. I love the atmosphere, the food, the colors… It’s the American version ofthanksgiving Christmas. I’m not going back to France for Christmas this year but I’ll be flying to Paris on Thanksgiving Day, so my mom is organizing a Thanksgiving dinner just for me! See… I even Americanized my family.

 

9. I try to eat local, fresh & organic when I can. Not because I turned organicinto a hipster (I do live in Brooklyn though) but because I need to! Food regulations in the US are different from those in Europe, and you need to be careful what you eat. Same goes with cleaning & beauty products. I buy all my cleaning products from The Honest Company, this is the only brand I know and trust here.

 

dating

10. My friends date. Terms like “dating”, “exclusive”, “seeing other people” are totally foreign concepts to us Europeans. On one hand, I couldn’t do it – not knowing if you’re actually with someone would freak me out – but on the other hand, I wish I could experience it and get rid of this feeling that I’m missing out on something that is so big in this country. Even my single French friends do not date, they meet someone, and they’re either together or they’re not. And even if they’re seeing someone and are not too sure of what their relationship status is, they still don’t call it “dating”, simply because the term does not exist.

Xx

Lili

Ege, a Woman of New York

egeIs there a better topic than theater when you’re a blogger in NYC? I don’t think so! For my first article of 2016, I interviewed Turkish Actor, Director, Writer and Acting Teacher Ege Maltepe.

I met Ege at one of her improv workshops in Central Park last summer and she gave me a whole new perspective on theater! She made me realize that being a foreigner was not an obstacle to performing and improvising, that improv was not about trying to be funny and that there were techniques to make it work. She’s now directing her sixth play, Women of New York, and is performing in it next month in Manhattan. It is a great fundraising project supporting women, and you can be a part of it now, so go get your tickets right away (ticket info at the end)! But who better than Ege herself to tell us about it…

First of all, who are you, Ege Maltepe?!

I recently turned 33, I love growing older. I grew up in Istanbul, Turkey. I went to acting school in Ankara, (BA), thenege-mike-nichols-2 got a Fulbright scholarship and got accepted to the New Actors Workshop in NYC. A new page in my life opened. I attended Mike Nichols’ master classes for 3 years, got introduced to Spolin improvisation and method acting. I got the chance to meet people like Philip Seymour Hoffman, Kevin Kline, Stanley Tucci and hear their insight. I graduated in 2009 with a thesis project named Variations After Joe, and the process made me realize that I was more than an actor, I could write and direct as well.

ege on stage 2I started a company called SPOLIN-IST; spreading Viola Spolin’s work. I worked in a school (New Actors Workshop) as an assistant teacher and stage manager. Became a Lab Artist at LaGuardia Performing Arts Center in 2011 with my play TEA for 3. Wrote and performed a one woman show named TITS in 2013-14. Became a member of 4th U VDay, co-directed the Vagina Monologues with a cast of 40 women! Each time, I realized what the real meaning of theater was, touching people’s lives and hearts and minds. To me this is a social art form, not just entertainment. Theater can change one’s life.

I love love love New York. Now after almost 10 years, I grew a little weary of the city. But if I leave one day, I will definitely miss the ever moving stage picture of NYC.

Could you tell us about your play and what inspired you to write it?

Women of New York is a comedic play chronicling stories of women of NYC in the course of a week, right before a women of ny posterhurricane hits the city. While communicating the struggles and dilemmas of contemporary women, it takes quirky snapshots of NY moments.

I’ve been a part of 4th U Artivists, formerly 4th U VDay, for the last 6 years. Every year the work touched me in a different level; working with a large group of women was a little scary at first, now I love it! Creating theater can be a therapeutic experience, of course if a company functions well. And we have been. Making a real solid contribution to a greatly important cause through the thing I am in love with; it simply is a great match for someone like me who constantly seeks meaning in life.

We were a V-Day group, producing shows by Eve Ensler. Starting from this season we decided to become a new brand, working for the same cause, and came up with the idea of creating our own show. I wrote the play specifically for 4th U Artivists during this summer. The idea of sharing everyday stories of New York women is exciting to me. Every day I think of a new story, or I meet someone or witness something that inspires me, but obviously a play can only have so many pages. I feel like I could write about this forever!

Which organizations are you partnering with this year?

This season’s beneficiaries are Restore NYC, HerJustice and V-Day. Restore and HerJustice are local organizations, Eve Ensler’s organization V-Day’s efforts are global. You can read about them here: http://4thuartivists.com/beneficiaries/.

Could you explain your work as an “Artivist” and how it makes a difference?

women of ny rehearsalI think the salvation of our generation is in the culture and arts. More precisely it lies in changing the culture that is run by the idea of “my ignorance is as good as your knowledge”. When you think about it, violence and intolerance are the major consequences of ignorance.  In order to change that we need to communicate. Not educate but communicate. An artwork touches us on a personal level. An artist can have a direct communication with people from all social and economic classes. It just brings everyone together. Especially theater, it literally brings people together in one room. It’s the best form of art for communication; music, movement and words can all come together. And it’s right in front of your eyes, not on a screen. I believe that art can change you. And I love the idea of raising your voice through creative work. I feel like the reason for me taking space on this earth lies in projects like this.

One thing you couldn’t live without?

Sunlightnewspaper

One quote on NYC…

If you see something, say something 🙂

One quote on women!

Stop fixing your bodies and start fixing the world! – Eve Ensler

Last but not least, one word that represents you?

Freedom

 

More info on the play: www.womenofnewyorkplay.com

More info on 4th U Artivists: www.4thuartivists.com

More info on Ege: www.egemaltepe.com