After graduating from the University of Bristol in June, Rowena Henley, 21, left her family to move to New York City to study for a Master’s Degree at NYU School of Journalism. Since arriving, she spends her time attending music shows, scouring vintage shops and eating Thai food. Although she has never lived outside England before and feels nervous being away from home, Ms. Henley is eager to learn how to blend in with American culture. She plans to take a road trip around the country and has aspirations to work at an independent music magazine in London after graduation.
Life in England: My hometown is Brighton. It’s my favorite place ever. It has got loads of music and it’s famous for its vintage shops. It reminds me of a very small New York. It’s really full of life and it has basically defined the way I am so I really have an attachment to it. I feel safe at home and that’s so far away that I feel nervous being in New York. It’s all completely new to me.
Close-knit family: My dad’s a banker, who works long and hard. My mum works at home in public relations so she’s around a lot. She is almost stupidly selfless; she does everything for everyone all the time. And I have two older sisters, Emily and Charlotte, and they are 22 and 26. We all get along really really well; we all have the same sense of humor. Making fun of our parents is what brings us all together. We’ve become really really close the older we’ve got.
Making moves: I’ve been on a couple of road trips with my family around America. At first, I thought I really wanted to come back to America to do another road trip here but as time went on, I thought that I’d do something more practical with my time so I applied to some schools. The whole idea of living in New York and being a journalist is something that I think everyone would love to do so I just thought I’d go for it.
Becoming a New Yorker: I like that I can walk literally anywhere and there will be something interesting on the street. There are no boring streets in this city, at all. I’m really really excited about seeing live music and the vintage shops. Getting to know New York would be really great; I want to know it like the back of my hand.
Indie rocker: At home I go to a lot of shows. I like Indie music, mainly folk music. I hate any music that’s really aggressive, doesn’t have a melody or doesn’t have good lyrics. I like really intelligent lyrics. I just like one man or one woman with one guitar. Taylor Swift is one of my guilty pleasures.
Memorable concerts: I suppose the first one I went to where I thought, “I really love this,” was this really interesting British rap band called “The Streets.” They played in this big venue in Brighton where they played with the crowd so well. Also, I went to Glastonbury, a big music festival, with my friends when I was 14, without my parents knowing. We ended up in a tent where everyone had a giant pillow fight.
Thai cuisine: I love Thai food, especially Wagamama in England. I always order the same thing there: Number 51, chicken katsu curry with the sauce on the side, that’s my favorite thing. I really like having dinner parties and cooking for everyone but I wish I was better. My mum makes the best Thai green curry so I copied her recipe.
Treasure hunting: I collect old post cards from junk shops that have been written on because you can find really interesting stuff that people say to each other. I’m quite nosy, that’s the thing. I like looking at when it was dated and seeing how people spoke to each other back then and how they showed affection. I love vintage shops for both clothing and antiques. Brighton is really famous for vintage clothing stores but also big junk antique stores. I’m quite obsessed about collecting things and making scrapbooks filled with concert tickets, receipts, photos and writing.
Edited for content.
Published in NYU Magazine 11/19/15