Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Hitting the Ground Running

My most recent move was my twelfth in ten years. Most of these moves were dictated by whatever academic pursuits I was up to at the time. They allowed me to see the country essentially from coast to coast. Though every uprooting is still difficult, I have slowly learned how to make the transitions a little less traumatic. These are the tips I have found most useful:

1.      You can never have too many friends or even acquaintances when moving somewhere new. If you have friends or family in the city you are moving to, you are golden. If you used to know someone but lost touch, time to reconnect. If you know someone who knows someone, this is helpful too.

2.       If you want to meet interesting people who do cool stuff, you need to be interesting and do cool stuff. This may seem self-evident to most, but it was not always self-evident to me. Learning this lesson has left me very open to trying new things and exploring the world around me. 

3.       Spend some time on Google Maps surfing around your new city to acquaint yourself with local resources and entertainment before moving. I chose my current apartment in large part because of its proximity to public transit, a yoga studio, and a natural food store in the heart of what is a very walkable neighbourhood. I am lazy enough that if fun things are not easy to get to, I am going to stay holed up like a hermit in my apartment and moan about being lonely.

4.       Put on your walking or running shoes and go discover your new city. There are a lot of things that you don’t really notice when you drive by in a bus or car. Plus, it’s easier to strike up a conversation with people if you are on foot.

5.       Sign up for something fun as soon as you can, and try to choose an activity that lends itself well to conversation with others. This will force you to get out of the house and hopefully meet some nice, like-minded people. I attended cooking classes, yoga classes, and a professional conference within a few weeks of moving. I appreciated the social contact, and I did end up meeting some really nice people.

6.       Sometimes, you need to stick your neck out a little if you want to make friends. Although this is very true, it is something I still struggle with. I am shy enough that approaching random people with an invitation to be my friend is not really my style. That said, when I have forced myself to be a bit more outgoing, I've reaped the social rewards.
7.       Best friends don’t happen overnight. When you move to a new city by yourself, it’s easy to feel quite lonely and isolated. Remembering that all your closest relationships were not built overnight can help put your new social milieu into context.

What did you find helped you navigate the transition to a new city?

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