New York city streets according a J1 Visa
Keith Wong

My first month as a J1 Visa Trainee in New York

It seems quite unbelievable that my first month as a J1 Visa Trainee in New York has already passed!

During this month as a J1 Visa holder in New York, I explored as many different parts of the city as possible.

Cities like this are somehow open to different time speeds at once, so, on one hand, it looks like I have been here so much longer than this first month as J1 Visa, on the other, I still feel new to everything.

As a J1 Visa Architecture Trainee, I was really curious about the different urban landscapes (and perhaps feeling a little nostalgic, too), so I spent one day walking around Little Italy in the Bronx. It was such a surprise to me, as it doesn’t look like Italy at all, but in a way, there’s a certain atmosphere that makes you navigate back in time and shoots you in some old times where people still make Mozzarella and cigars according to traditional methods.

The afternoon seemed perfect for a slow walk in the Botanical Garden, which was just stunning to me. The conservatory gardens contains great plants and the exterior has various different areas, one with roses that had actually the perfume of roses and reminded me of the place where I was born, where my family also had wild rose plants of different species, one has some lines of cherry trees, one of the ancient magnolias, which are just impressive, daffodils, a farm for children, maples and many more. It was a real joy for me, it inspired me into searching for some letters that Virginia Woolf must have exchanged with her lover Vita Sackville-West, in which I know they used to talk about designing a white garden at Vita’s property, which has now become part of the British National Trust. The afternoon also made me think about an Italian writer that I randomly met before my departure, who talked about beauty as a device that enables you to connect things that appear completely disconnected and she described herself as a funny monkey who jumps from tree to tree while staying in a suspended world.


Botanical Garden New York

Another day I went to a concert by one of my favourite bands, which took place on the rooftop of a Pier in Manhattan – from where I enjoyed the sunset by the Brooklyn Bridge. That night I met some American people and we made friends, they took me out for dinner in China Town, together with their family and I just thought there is a little magic here. If you keep your eyes and heart open, New York is a gate on so many different worlds for a J1 Visa Trainee, you can never get tired. It’s a place to which you can address any type of curiosity, and, at some point, just while walking with your heads in the clouds, higher than the skyscraper, it will give you answers.

It’s been only one month as J1 Visa Trainee and it’s already hard to keep track of my list of wonders, but I should probably say that the most magical moment was when I went to my first survey for work.

The site is in a charming natural area that receives a certain light I never expected to find in New York, the trees surrounding it are very ancient, with stable roots and slim bodies. As soon as I went out of the car, my mind was blown away and I couldn’t do anything but smile. It is the type of place where you feel lucky about not everything being perfect since otherwise, you would never have the chance to work on it, to deeply understand. It’s a place where certain ideals of America once used to be, the dust you breathe while exploring it uncovers its past, the cracky windows that will be replaced filter the light and add beauty to the natural site through their framing. I found them open, just as open as the possibilities this experience is promising me.

Giorgia Cedro


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