New York State of the Mind

This month Natural Selections interviews Raquel Hernandez-Solis Research Assistant, Gilbert Laboratory

Interview by Guadalupe Astorga

How long have you been living in the New York area? 

Photo Courtesy of Raquel Hernandez-Solis

Two years, and I also lived here for three months during the Rockefeller SURF program (Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship).

Where do you currently live?  Which is your favorite neighborhood?

I live in my favorite neighborhood which is Astoria, Queens; it’s a wonderful place. It has the New York vibes and also a bit of L.A., which I love.

What do you think is the most overrated thing in the city? And underrated? 

I was going to say the most overrated thing is Shake Shack, but now I know it has also expanded to L.A.

I think Williamsburg is also overrated; it has lost a bit of the charm, even 3 years ago.
Underrated, I think Astoria Park, it has a beautiful view over the bridge and you can run on the track, there’s always someone selling fruit in carts.

What do you miss most when you are out of town? 

I miss the feeling of being able to do anything very quickly. I miss being only a 15 minute train ride from my dance class or my favorite restaurant. I love the convenience of the city.

Has anything (negative or positive) changed about you since you became one of us “New Yorkers”?

I have gotten a bit more cautious because I had some break-in incidents, but I have not lost my sense of exploration. When I first got here I used to get off the train in a random station to explore the neighborhood, and I have not lost that, but I do feel that I have gotten a bit more cautious.

If you could change one thing about NYC, what would that be?

I would change smoking laws in the streets, that’s my least favorite thing in the city. I feel that the cigarette smoke that I smell on my way to work is too much.  

What is your favorite weekend activity in NYC?

In the summer I really like looking at the free dance and cultural activities in my Time Out magazine. Last summer I saw the ballet Hispanico for free at Lincoln Center and also different concert venues outside.

 What is the most memorable experience you have had in NYC?  

My most memorable experience was to be able to perform in the Barclays Center, last summer, and feel like Beyoncé for a night, walking on the floor of the center and seeing thousands and thousands of people, it was the really cool.

Bike, MTA or walk it???

I love the MTA, and I’m starting to expand my horizons with the bus system. I think it’s very convenient because it takes you where the subway cannot.

If you could live anywhere else, where [would] might that be? 

I would like to live in Mexico for a little bit, not only to reconnect with my family down there; but I would also love the opportunity to do folklorico dance there for an extended period of time.

Do you think of yourself as a New Yorker?

I think so. My heart has changed from Los Angelino to New Yorker. I’m 75% New Yorker now.