Expanding Your Palate: A Delicious Accident

If you don’t leave your comfort zone voluntarily, life will drag you kicking and screaming out of it. This was part of the rude awakening I received as I transitioned to living in New York my freshman year. It wasn’t just college life that presented a challenge to me, but the city itself. New York has a unique way of making a person feel not just lonely, but isolated, despite living side by side with millions of other people. You walk with them on your way to class, you eat a foot away from them at the tiny corner restaurant, and you sometimes even find yourself angry that they are in your space. And yet, no matter how close you may be to others, you somehow still feel alone. At least, this is how it may feel at first. 

My second semester at NYU brought on more adventures than expected. With my new friend Leslie beside me, I finally felt less lonely than I had at the beginning of the school year. I could breathe a sigh of relief that now I had someone to do things and go places with. But classes and schoolwork got the better of us, and in about mid-March we found ourselves as unsatisfied as before we had gotten to know each other. As we sat under the fluorescents of the library at 2:00 a.m. one night, I turned away from my half-written paper and said to Leslie, “We don’t do anything. We only have a quarter of the year left and nothing to show for our freshman year.”

She was reluctant to acknowledge it, but ultimately agreed. However, we both knew what the real problem was. Nearly identical in nature, two homebodies out of their element, we were anxious. Overall uneasy, generally nervous, ultimately too timid for New York. And broke. Most of all, broke. 

New York is a city that demands for you to demand something of it and we were used to having to ask nicely. But no longer. We made a decision to go out more, to try to do something fun, even if it was just one thing, every weekend. We would break out of our shells and get to know the city, as we were meant to. We would save the money for those things that were worth it and would find other events that were free to go to. Inevitably, we were drawn to more and more restaurants with mouth-watering images of food on their websites and dazzling settings to dine in. Going out to eat undoubtedly became one of our favorite ways to treat ourselves, and that we did. 

Some Friday night in April we chatted eagerly on our walk up to Panna II, an Indian restaurant Leslie had hyped up to me after reading reviews and seeing pictures of their interior, which looked like an explosion of Christmas lights. She was excited to try Indian food for the first time and I hadn’t had my fill since last summer, so as we approached Panna II we were too distracted to realize what was happening.

“Come in, come in,” a man at the foot of the stairs said. We could see Panna II, just a few steps up from where we were on the sidewalk, winking at us with all its lights. Hungry and keen on stuffing ourselves with chicken tikka masala as fast as possible, we followed the man without a second thought. We followed him down. As we walked down a previously-unnoticed set of stairs into another restaurant, we looked at each other, panicked and too shy to say what was on our minds: “Wait, I’m sorry, I think we’re in the wrong place.”

In a whirlwind we were seated under rows of multicolored chili lights and menus were placed in front of us. When the host left us to browse the menu, we could only stare at each other. 

Royal Bangladesh Indian Restaurant in New York City.

“I don’t think this is it,” I eventually whispered across from Leslie. “Is this maybe their downstairs area?” I had been so set on Panna II that I was hopeful this was the case.

“Maybe?” Leslie whispered back, also clinging to hope. At this point we had to have looked suspicious huddled over the table, whispering to each other and looking around with wide eyes, completely disregarding the menus. 

“No, this isn’t it,” I said, but it was still barely registering in my mind.

“Then where are we?” Leslie asked. She was as frazzled as I was.

I looked down at our menus and found our answer. I read out, “Royal Bangladesh Indian Restaurant.”

We stayed. It would have been rude to leave even though we hadn’t ordered yet, and anyway, we still got our Indian food and twinkling lights. The food truly was some of the best, if not the best, Indian that I’ve ever had. Leslie quickly became a fan of it and ever since, we’ve ordered take-out from Royal Bangladesh countless times. Though things hadn’t gone as planned, we made the most of it and ultimately had a spectacular night, one that we’d laugh about for a long while after.

This night didn’t represent a huge leap in our leaving the comfort zone, but it was undeniably a moment in which we had to learn to go with the flow and enjoy the moment. It was especially difficult for two people who needed to feel in control when exploring the city, but it paid off. I know though that if we could have gotten just a little more comfortable a little more quickly, we would have had way more stories to tell from our freshman year. 

Curious to see how I could have prepared myself to be more “out there” my freshman year, I recently researched some ways to get out of your comfort zone. The ones I found most notable chalked up to forming habits and reshaping your mindset to trying new things. I believe these to be the most important when wanting to explore the city because New York can take a lot out of you otherwise. If you find yourself struggling to want to go out, it is perfectly normal. But I’d suggest doing anything you can to get yourself to walk the city’s streets and uncover what it has to offer. Starting out small, just one restaurant, museum, or happy accident at a time can take you there.

And if you’re craving Indian food after reading this, Campus Clipper has a coupon just for you to use at Mughlai Indian Cuisine. Click on the link below to get either 50% or 15% off a delicious meal! It will be sure to satisfy your cravings.

https://www.campusclipper.com/new/popup1.php?CUP_COD=3601


By: Anaïs Nuñez-Tovar

Anaïs is currently a Junior at New York University and is majoring in English with a minor in Creative Writing. Her goal for the future is to work in the publishing industry and write on the side. She loves to write and read poetry and fiction in her spare time.

For over 20 years, the Campus Clipper has been offering awesome student discounts in NYC,  from the East Side to Greenwich Village. Along with inspiration, the company offers students a special coupon booklet and the Official Student Guide, which encourages them to discover new places in the city and save money on food, clothing, and services.  

At the Campus Clipper, not only do we help our interns learn new skills, make money, and create wonderful e-books, we give them a platform to teach others. Check our website for more student savings and watch our YouTube video showing off some of New York City’s finest students during the Welcome Week of 2015.

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