The young architect who dreamed of New York

by | Sep 3, 2020 | New York, travel


In 2008 I fell in love with New York. I don’t know how or why, but it just happened.

Why am I telling you this? 

Because today it’s been 5 years since I moved to the city. I just wanted to stay for a couple of years, but they turned into 5! Although much has happened, sometimes I feel that I’m still in the first one.

Some of you asked me about my story, how I got here and how I managed to stay. That is the reason for this post. It is said that sharing is caring, and if I can help a single person with my story, it will be well worth it.

My first date with New York

As I was saying, it all started in 2008. I was finishing my master’s thesis, and I got a scholarship to spend a month in New York.

Those weeks were amazing, and I still remember how much I cried on my trip back to Barcelona.

From that moment on, my goal became to return to the Big Apple. However, this time I wanted to stay.

Check more posts about New York here 

I got my master’s degree in architecture. I worked as a public space designer for a few years, then as a project manager in municipal companies, but that thorn was still in the flesh…

Thus, the day I turned 30, I decided that I couldn’t wait any longer. If I didn’t try then, I knew I was going to regret it for the rest of my life.

I left my permanent job position in 2015. I took the plunge and moved to Chicago. I didn’t know anyone there and I had no idea what would happen, but my heart was telling me that it was the place to be.

Brief affair with Chicago

Now you may be wondering: but didn’t you fall in love with New York? Why did you move to Chicago?

Ok, touché! Let me explain.

Being realistic, my adventure could end up being a short getaway. Therefore, wasn’t it better to explore a different city in the US? And of course, it could not be other than Chicago.

Today I am convinced that it was the best decision I could take.

Let me briefly summarize my time in Chicago: I visited incredible architecture, I did a lot of networking, and I met the most amazing people in the city.

I consider myself very fortunate for having met such wonderful people in Chicago. Even better, today they are still part my life.


During those months I did not stop for a second. Thanks to that and my passion for architecture [let’s call it Architectural Visits], two companies were interested in my profile. The most incredible thing was that they were based in New York!

My return to the Big Apple

The moment I set foot in New York, I felt at home. I like thinking that she had missed me too ;).

After my time in Chicago, where I encountered some difficulties in employment, New York was welcoming me with open arms. Both companies offered me to join their teams, and I couldn’t be happier.

Was it chance, luck, or just fate? Well, I don’t know. The dream I had pursued for so long was becoming real, and I was thrilled.


Once I was back in Chicago, I focused on spending my last days just enjoying the city and its architecture, the Blues and Jazz festivals and, of course, its people.

Chicago is amazing, and one of the best cities to visit if you are interested in architecture. Since then I try to visit my friends once a year, and also continue discovering what this wonderful city has to offer.

Mom, I’m moving to New York

On September 3, 2015, I took a direct flight from Barcelona to New York. Once again, I couldn’t stop crying. I remember how hard it was to leave my beloved ones in Barcelona.

My first month in New York was terrible. I didn’t know anyone, I couldn’t find a place to live, and my first days at work were not easy… Everything seemed to be against me, and my high levels of stress were affecting my physical health.

My dream was turning into a real nightmare

I won’t try to fool you. The beginnings were really hard.

New York is fantastic, but it can also be devastating. A city with more than 8 million people, and I felt completely alone. I wondered why I was there, why I had left my comfortable life in Barcelona, ​​why I was far away from my beloved ones… 

But suddenly, I started meeting those who would become my angels in New York. People that I just met, who selflessly reached out to me and helped me. I will always be grateful.

The American Dream & the Bauhaus

Loving New York again

From that moment on, my life in New York began to change. Wonderful people crossed my path again, and the city offered me much more than I could ever imagine. Attending exclusive events, making collaborations with top design magazines, meeting top architects whom I had studied at school… 

New York is a land of opportunity, where anything is possible. You just need to keep your eyes wide open and set your priorities. However, you must also be prepared to be disappointed from time to time.

This is what makes New York special.


Looking back, the last five years have been the most intense ones of my whole life. There were wonderful moments, but also very hard ones. Still, I would not change one single thing, since this is what led me where I am today.

I don’t know how much longer I will be in the Big Apple, or even if I will dare to leave it some day. The good news is that I can decide by myself.

Visiting New York?  Do not miss the best architecture



If you have come this far, I am sure that you also have goals and dreams that seem almost unreachable. I hope my story encourages you to start fighting for them.

Undoubtedly, the most important lesson that I learned from this adventure, and I will always remember, is the following:

If you work hard and believe in yourself, dreams come true. 

Now it’s time for you to share your dreams and next challenges. Whether you think I can help you or just want to say hello, I’d love to read your comments.

Should you prefer, leave your email below so you don’t miss what is yet to come.

Now, let’s keep talking about architecture.


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Helena Ariza | Architect, passionate about photography and traveling. My purpose is to take you on a journey to the best architectural works.



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