Daria Sokol, a travel blogger from Ukraine, has lived in the US since 2013.
Sokol told Insider that her first impressions of New York City were comparable to a "horror movie."
She said she now loves NYC, however, and can't imagine living anywhere else.
Daria Sokol, a Ukrainian travel blogger who lives in New York City, told Insider that her "horrible first impression" of the city is far different from how she perceives it now.
Sokol, from Kharkiv, Ukraine, said she first moved to the US in 2013, for a study-abroad program in Washington, DC. She witnessed a first glimpse of NYC as she flew into JFK and transferred to a bus to DC. The 29-year-old told Insider that she had expected it to be beautiful — like what she had seen in American movies — but some areas in the outskirts of the city were dirtier than she had anticipated.
That didn't deter her, and Sokol relocated to New York in 2019.
She currently works as a technical account manager and posts travel content for her 20,000 followers on Instagram in her spare time.
She told Insider that she now loves NYC and can't imagine living anywhere else. And in May, she got married at the Top of the Rock because she wanted to be surrounded by the city's iconic buildings.
But there were plenty of surprises about American living — and life in NYC — along the way. Here's what she said surprised her most about living stateside.
Sokol said New York looked like 'a horror movie' when she first arrived
Sokol told Insider that she was surprised by the bad weather and the amount of litter that she witnessed on her bus journey out of New York to DC.
"It was like a horror movie," Sokol said. "It was very rainy, thunderstorms, pouring rain. The streets were so dirty, with trash everywhere. It looked so bad."
She said she remembers wondering: "Where is all the New York beauty?"
Sokol is originally from Kharkiv, Ukraine's second largest city which is known for its commitment to sustainability. Before Russia's invasion of Ukraine, the city joined the EBRD Green Cities initiative, which was put in place to allow European cities to tackle environmental needs, such as solid waste management, according to the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. The city has around 1.5 million residents.
Sokol said she returned to NYC the following year, and with every visit seeing new places, like Central Park, made NYC grow on her. She ultimately decided to move to the city.
Sokol says she was struck by how friendly people are in NYC
Sokol said one of the things she loves about the US is the friendly people.
"People are more smiley," she said. "Walking down the street in the United States and you smile at someone, around 90% of the time they smile back."
She added that, in her experience, there's a culture of encouragement and positivity in the US that isn't as common in other countries — so much so that she said she found it difficult to accept compliments from strangers at first.
"I would be walking down the street, and a lady would say, 'Oh, I love your shoes, they are so pretty," Sokol said.
"Now I really like this culture of encouragement," she added. "There is more positivity compared to some countries."
Read the original article on Insider