From the Eyes of an Immigrant: A Repository of NYC’s interestingness

Gertrude Abarentos
3 min readJul 14, 2021


This story started on the 11th of July 2021 and will be updated every once in a while as a collection of the author’s favorite things about New York City. She arrived Saturday, 19th of June 2021.

Restroom at Elmhurst Park — Captured 11th July 2021 (Sunday) — NOTE: It’s rare for Filipinos to encounter clean public restrooms, much more aesthetically pleasing ones.

1. The Libby App by Overdrive

24th of June 2021

If humanity wants world peace, Libby can be the answer — it contains thousands of digital books, magazines, and audiobooks from your public library accessible for free, all in your pocket! Talk about versatile enrichment of culture and knowledge sharing!

I am aware that Libby is not exclusive in NYC, but it is one of my firsts discoveries after visiting Stavros Niarchos Foundation Library in 5th avenue on the day I first commuted alone. I immediately talked about it to my friends at home — we barely have libraries, much more digitalization of literature, and I even shared it with a local I met online — who does not even know that this gem exists (he surely checked it out immediately though).

The first book I loaned. Anne Sale explored common human dilemmas (on death, sex, money) which we usually (and unconsciously) avoid talking and thinking about for their unpleasantry.

2. You’ll receive kindness from from all walks of life

15th August 2021

It was Sunday midnight when I got lost on my way home. Panicked, I called an uber ride instead of waiting for another bus. I rode a Toyota Camry with a driver named Syed.

I was feeling stressed by work and the disappointment with myself from always getting lost despite my almost 2 months in NYC — will I ever get used to this? What if I will remain perpetually lost? I wanted to breakdown in the lonely and silent Northern Boulevard. Yet, Syed offered the consolation of a conversation.

Gertrude?” He asked for my name, just like other uber drivers. “Yes, it’s Gertrude” and I thought that was it, just like other uber drivers. But Syed had a follow-up on his gears — ”What, is that a Korean name? Japanese?” People would often tell me I look like either of those two, “Oh no, I’m a Filipino” “Really? Your name does not sound like one.” I chuckled, “My mom just got it from a random baby book!”

And our conversation went on — about his Filipino friends and how much everyone is doing great, and how I don’t sound like one; it was a humanizing experience to pass on a free-flowing thoughts and laughs — something that I haven’t had in a while. He told me that he was from Pakistan, and how much his parents wanted him to pursue something else; yet, he knew what he wanted. He wanted to explore the entire New York City and he got it — he got it through his 3 years driving an uber.

Then it was my turn, I told him that unlike most Filipino immigrants, I am not pursuing anything in the medical field, “I am trying to be a journalist” I claimed. He expressed how interesting endeavor that is for NYC, and how much it is an advantage to know how to drive as a journalist.

I tried offering him a tip before I got off. But I received something priceless instead, “No, no, Gertrude. Become a journalist, okay? Then comeback to me when you already are.

Syed, I already wrote our little story. I am a little journalist now. Thank you.



Gertrude Abarentos

WRITER for UNDERSCORE | Creating something means imagining it and not imagining the world without it. We’re all telling a story, what’s your medium?