I've been visiting two former housemates in New York for the last week and the experiences couldn't have been more different. I'm staying with D in Manhattan and he now works as a banker and has the stereotypical young New York banker life. A great apartment in the heart of Manhattan, a few blocks from Central Park and tons of things to do within minutes of his house. Goes to work at 630 in the morning and stays there till 8 or 9 pm. His apartment is pretty bare with an empty fridge but a great TV and stereo system. In his absence, I've made good use of living close to Central Park by going running there and also watching TV in surround sound. The weekend was quite crazy as I ended up going out with his banker friends to a bunch of bars and clubs in the village. All of them have a work hard, party harder lifestyle and I was completely groggy the next day. They were all back at work the same day though. D has dragged me to a lot of places so far - a baseball game, a golf driving range, a comedy club and lots of bars. It's been a lot of fun but a bit draining.
For the last 3 days, I've been in Ithaca in upstate New York staying with another former housemate, C. She's now married to E and they're both postdocs in Cornell and have a life on the other end of the spectrum. A huge apartment (where I had my own room and bathroom) within 10 minutes of the University, relaxed "work" hours and a kitchen better stocked than almost any kitchen I've seen. Cornell has possibly the prettiest campus of any school I've ever been to, with gorges and waterfalls in the middle of the university. Walking around Cornell was nice with all the hills, streams and trails. Ithaca is a really small town though and in 3 days I think I saw all of Ithaca and met half the people. The cliches of small-town laidback lifestyle are so true out here and for people from a quiet/smalltown background and an affinity for the outdoors it's an ideal place. The walk back from the campus to their apt is along a gorge and past a waterfall. Can't imagine a nicer walk back home everyday.