Anna Avgousti – Covid-19 Stories – New York

New York - picture Anna
Anna can you please tell us about yourself

Sure so I’m Anna Avgousti, I grew up in Cyprus then moved to the UK to study Actuarial Sciences, worked for a couple of years in London and now I live and work in New York having moved over with work late last year.

I joined Deutsche Bank straight after graduating from my MSc and joined the credit structuring desk, which long story short works with the lending arm of the bank to provide financing to infrastructure and energy projects, shipping, young companies, healthcare etc

What made you decide to move to New York?

I’ve wanted to live in New York for a while and raised it with my manager at work but didn’t actively pursue it until my boyfriend moved a year ago.

New York is the financial centre of the world, the city that never sleeps; in my opinion, everyone who can experience life in New York should do it. In finance at least, innovation moves from West to East (US, Europe, Asia) and the work culture here is a lot more straightforward, there is a lot of opportunity to learn and so professionally it made absolute sense. Given it made sense professionally, everything else was an added plus: nightlife, summers, people etc. My boyfriend’s move certainly pushed me pursue it more actively at work and we got lucky with timing

New York view

Anna how does life compare to your home town Limassol?

Its very different on a number of aspects: work, social life, exercise, sports, vibe, weather. Work is a lot faster paced here, more demanding, more deadlines, more competition and everyone is slightly thirstier and more ambitious than you. I work more hours than I would have if I were home but then I manage to do more with my free time here because it is limited and so I need to be “productive” with it.

The way people view sports here is different there is a lot of hype and partying around sports like basketball and football (American, not proper football). People don’t just go to games, e.g. there is an entire month dedicated to college basketball, march madness, and it is massive, an experience. The nightlife is also very different and there are a lot more options, different bars, clubs, music, concerts. You can play pool or Ping-Pong at a dodgy underground bar until 7am or go to comedy night at midnight or party hard at a club.

Having said that, I’d say New York is more similar to Limassol than London is to Limassol and I think it’s the fact that there is an actual summer and more of a community feeling. The summer here is “unbearable” according to my English boyfriend, for me, its home. The beach is a 2h train ride rather than a 10′ walk but its accessible and on weekends people just hang out by the pool, go to rooftop parties and just generally chill outside, there are no bad summer days, the sun shines and the Limassol-beachy vibe follows.

river view

How did the news of the first Cyprus measures find you? Did measures in New York start after or before Cyprus?
I was very pleasantly surprised by the government’s actions! The government did an insanely good job with this despite the backlash received from Cypriots abroad. Look at where the island is compared to the rest of the continent, let alone the rest of the world. I was worried because people, including myself, are irresponsible, “it won’t affect me, I’m young and healthy” and then without thinking spreading it to our grandparents. Shutting down the island was the right thing to do to protect the people we love. 

It’s frustrating and boring but at least everyone’s doing their part in killing the virus. New York was late in applying any measures, we were going out properly until the 16th of March even though work had already split us between “disaster recovery” locations and then sent us home within a couple weeks.

Anna What measures have been taken in New York and how did the city and its people react?
There isn’t a lockdown in place, but the city is dead except for running routes on the river, otherwise the streets are empty. The most recent measure set by the governor was for the public to wear masks outside when you can’t social distance i.e. running routes, grocery stores etc. We’re kind of lucky because we live near a big supermarket that isn’t part of a chain so unless you live in our neighbourhood you wouldn’t really know it.

I have seen an actual fight over I’m not sure what, outside Trader Joes (Alphamega equivalent) it looked like it was because someone cut the queue. Also, while we used to order all our groceries online for delivery now it’s become impossible to get a slot but other than the empty city, the lack of amazon prime, and the horrible fearmongering from news we haven’t felt threatened. The weather over the weekend was awesome and the parks were full but on Tuesday we walked up to Times Square and it was eerily empty.

Times Square

What actions did you decide to take? Are you planning to travel back to Europe and Cyprus when possible?
We wear masks whenever we go out but generally try to avoid going out other than for a run or to go to the grocery shop. Unfortunately, all my plans have been cancelled, my friends cancelled their weddings and bachelor trips and I cannot go to Europe right now because it can get difficult to come back so I’d rather not risk it. I’ve told my pappou I’ll be back in Cy by the 3rd of July, but it seems unlikely.

Anna Avgousti

In the meantime are you planning to move away from New York that seems to be the epicentre of the crisis in the US?
Yes we’ve looked at a few options including moving to Florida or North Carolina, somewhere on the East Coast, but haven’t yet landed on one. Most of our friends have moved out of NYC so we’ll follow if the restrictions aren’t lifted soon. For now, we’ve settled with galmping in the Catskills for a few days.
Anna what are you doing now?
Working from home for the last 6 weeks.
How do you keep your mind busy?
I read, work, exercise. I’m lucky because I’m isolating with my boyfriend so I have someone to talk to. Unsure he’d say the same….
Do you do some form of exercise?
Yes, surprisingly I’m a lot fitter now than I have been in the last four years. I run or cycle or do yoga or any other class 5-6 times a week. I used to hate running and now it’s the only way I can keep sane.

Central Park New York - Anna Avgousti

Anna what is your favourite book? TV series? Movie?
My favourite book is a tough question… David and Goliath by Malcolm Gladwell is really good, so is Blink by the same guy, he’s a good author. Persepolis is also a really good book but different, I dont know what my favourite book is… But I’ve just finished “never split the difference” right now which my brother recommended and its really really good. I’d definitely recommend it. TV Series – currently hooked on Scandal but Unreal which I finished a couple weeks ago was unreal… These are tough questions. I don’t know what my favourite movie is… Parasite was the last one I watched. It was okay.
Do you have a pet?
Sadly, no but I befriended my neighbour’s dogs: George, Simon and Sophie. I don’t actually know my neighbours name (I thought one of them was Simon for a while, turned out it was his dog’s name).
Have you tried or are planning to try something new? (e.g. new book, new skill, new recipe, etc and if yes is it from online sources? )
I like reading new books that teach you “life skills” like negotiating, hence “never split the difference” and improving skills that help with work, like financial modelling but I don’t think I’ll be learning a new language any time soon. I bought a sewing machine but it’s still in the box. Maybe I’ll open it next weekend, maybe I won’t.

Tell us something you love doing in New York prior to the Virus that you can’t do in Cyprus?
This is tough but I think it would be trying something new every week, be it restaurants, bars or going to an event.

New York Road - Anna

Tell us something positive you have got out of this entire situation?
Time!!!! I always complained I didn’t have enough time, I didn’t have enough time to read, to learn other things other than work, to sleep or to write and now I have so much time.
What have you missed the most?
I missed a lot of things. I missed my family; my mum was supposed to visit a few weeks ago but clearly that was cancelled. I miss hanging out and being able to meet with my friends whenever I want to and definitely travelling.
What have you appreciated more?
Hate sounding cliche but time spent with loved ones. I think we spend a lot of time hearing but not listening because we’re always busy and now that we have time its become easier to communicate.
What will your prioritize when all of this is over?
My people.

We would like to thank Anna for this interview and sharing how life is in New York, you can follow Anna on instagram

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