This month Natural Selections interviews Johannes Buheitel, a postdoctoral scientist in the Jallepalli Lab at MSKCC, and a member of the Natural Selections Editorial Board.
How long have you been living in the New York area?
As of this month, I’ve been living here for 1.5 years.
Where do you currently live? Which is your favorite neighborhood?
I live on Roosevelt Island. There are so many great neighborhoods in NYC. I typically enjoy areas that are a bit under the radar but still have great places to go to. One of these areas would be Astoria, but I’ve also been hanging out in Bushwick lately.
What do you think is the most overrated thing in the city? And underrated?
Overrated: Times Square. Big lights? Broadway glamour? More like suffocating in a sea of tourists, while getting your pockets picked.
Underrated: Home cooking. I know, it’s hard especially in NYC where you have these great options to dine out or order in. Also, cooking at home is often more expensive and then there’s the whole dish situation afterwards. But on the other hand, preparing a meal for your friends and loved ones can be a very rewarding experience.
What do you miss most when you are out of town?
Definitely the food. You have authentic cuisine from just about all over the world right at your fingertips when you live here. When I’m back in Germany, especially during Christmas and it’s cold outside, I sometimes catch myself daydreaming about a hot bowl of spicy ramen (not the kind you buy at Gristedes of course!).
Has anything (negative or positive) changed about you since you became one of us “New Yorkers”?
I feel that I’ve become more impatient, something that I particularly notice when I’m out of town; Why is everyone moving SO slow?
If you could change one thing about NYC, what would that be?
That’s easy: the insane rents!
What is your favorite weekend activity in NYC?
My cop-out answer is: explore the city. This includes anything between walking around a new neighborhood, checking out a new restaurant or eating food I’ve never had before, going to see some weird exhibition, or going bar hopping in Soho.
What is the most memorable experience you’ve had in NYC?
That’s a tough question, because you can experience so many memorable things here. But I have to say, the moments that emotionally stick with me the most are very mundane ones. Like when I’m just taking a stroll with my fiancé through a nice neighborhood such as Greenpoint. It’s a weekend, the sun is out, and we’re just talking. It’s in these moments, where you get to feel a sense of calm, and counterintuitively, as if you were in sync with the city.
Bike, MTA or walk it?
In general, I love to walk the streets, which really allows me to feel the pulse of the particular neighborhood I’m in. But if I need to get somewhere, particularly when it’s far, I switch to my bike or the subway.
If you could live anywhere else, where would that be?
So far at least, my plan is to go back to Germany after my postdoc. There, I’d really love to live in Munich, which for me has the right mix between modernity and traditionalism. But if I leave out Germany, then I could see myself living in Amsterdam, which is very beautiful, diverse, and just perfect to explore by bike.
Do you think of yourself as a New Yorker?
According to some, you have to have been living here for at least ten years, while others say only if you’ve been mugged at knifepoint, you’re allowed to call yourself a New Yorker. When I think of a typical New Yorker, I think of a busy person, who may be very direct (this is what many outsiders mistake to be rudeness), but is ultimately very kind and helpful. I’d like to think of myself as that person, so I’m at least a New Yorker by heart.