Part of the enjoyment of exploring a new city is finding your favorite hangouts. (Photo courtesy of Pixabay.)
(Editor’s Note: Today’s post concludes a three-part series about a common rite of passage for college graduates – moving away after obtaining one’s degree.)
The Saturday morning sun crept in as I fluttered my eyes open. Suddenly a brief moment of bewilderment crashed over me before I realized that this foreign, empty white room was my new apartment, in my new city. It had been two weeks since the big move to San Diego and it still seemed surreal. This wasn’t just summer break; this was it – my new life. I rolled out of bed and made the decision to venture off to the local coffee spot around the corner. As I sat there, enjoying my iced latte on the cafe patio and contemplating what I would do with my day, my mood inadvertently shifted. A fear slowly engulfed my seemingly serene Saturday morning: wait, what am I actually going to do today?
Work absorbed my week days, so Saturdays were my opportunity to really capitalize on San Diego’s offerings. But where do I start? The ‘what’, ‘where’, and ‘with who’ questions flooded my mind, which felt very overwhelming; I knew there was so much to do but I felt so lost. Go to the beach, but what beach? Try a hike, but which one? I had no idea where people my age hung out and, at that point, I dreaded the thought of doing anything alone.
Acclimating to a new city and lifestyle can be overwhelming and definitely doesn’t happen overnight. I expected everything to just click as soon as I moved, like it did in college; however, I was in for quite the reality check.
We move to a new city knowing that it won’t be easy. We are told to put ourselves out there, embrace the unknown. But how? To ease some of that anxiety, here are a few things I did that helped me survive the move.
Get a lay of the land
Samuel Brannan from Trulia (a company that develops mobile and web products for home buyers, renters and sellers)explains that a part of feeling at home is being comfortable in your surroundings. Getting a lay of the land, familiarizing yourself with the local amenities, and getting around will help you become acquainted in your new neighborhood.
Often times, moving to a new area without knowing anyone can make it intimidating to go out on your own. But there are easy ways to make friends – you’re likely going to meet other newly grads looking to socialize and explore their new city as well. Networking with fellow ASU alumni in the area or joining an adult league of your favorite sport are great ways to meet people.
The best thing you can do is get out and explore. Finding your go-to takeout place, or Sunday brunch destination, will help you fall in love with your new stomping grounds. If you’re looking for a useful tool during your explorations, using the Trulia maps can help you find everything from the area’s best nightlife, to local crime levels and hazards.
Create New Hobbies or Dust Off Old Ones
Truth be told, I felt a little out of place as soon as I got to San Diego. Far from your typical beach lover, I was nervous that I wouldn’t grow to appreciate and love the things San Diego is best known for – I wasn’t a surfer, nor had I any interest in becoming one. Instead of sticking to my old ways, though, I ventured out to try new things. From paddle boarding to yoga on the beach, I discovered unique events and activities that San Diego offered and tried them. You may feel a bit touristy, but you also may find a new hobby that you won’t be able to live without! I also revived my hobby of running, which I had done in high school, and frequently attended various workout meet up groups. Of course, not all of these activities stuck, but it gave me the opportunity to explore the city and meet great people.
If you're not interested in learning to surf in a beach town, try something new, such as beach yoga. (Photo courtesy of Pixabay.)
Take advantage of Groupon and Free Events
As mentioned earlier, I looked up a ton of local events and activities when I first moved to San Diego, and apps like Groupon and Eventbrite became my go-to’s. These gave me options, and kept me up to date on small events going on.
But most new grads aren't made of money, even if they do find a sweet job right out of the starting gate. So how do you find free stuff to do? Because I got back into running and working out, I found that many athletic stores actually host free events, sometimes even weekly. Don’t believe me? Lululemon stores put on community events and retreats; the running store across my apartment meets at a brewery monthly for a yoga class and drinks. Starbucks stores have community bulletin boards that showcase events and weekly happenings from a wide variety of organizations. Take advantage of all of these.
Keep Up with Local Blogs
Whether you have a passion for food, exploring the outdoors, or nightlife shenanigans, find blogs online that are local to your city as well as your interests; these are a gold mine for things to do and new places to try. Don’t have time to search the internet? Instagram. I know most people who are my age use it to mindlessly scroll through our friends’ pictures. Put some additional use to the app by following local accounts that interest you.
Say Yes to Company Activities
You have just worked a long 10+ hour day and the couch might sound a lot better than a company happy hour. I know the feeling; I am definitely guilty. However, don’t give in to couch potato-hood! Go out and be social with your coworkers. This gives you the opportunity to get to know your coworkers outside of the offices and try new places.
Do Things Alone
This continues to be one of the hardest things for me, but it is absolutely essential for surviving a new city. The days that you are constantly surrounded by 10+ people (classroom, sorority, sports team etc) are long gone, and you’re not always going to be living just a few blocks away from your best friend. Instead of freaking out when you are by yourself with no immediate plans, take advantage of it. I walked around the new city and explored different boutiques in the area. It took me a while but I actually sat down and had dinner alone. The result? It wasn’t that bad. I always end up chatting with bartender and the few others while enjoying a glass of wine. Alone time is the chance to really learn about yourself. Don’t take that for granted.
These past three years in San Diego have been filled with exciting adventures as well as unexpected turns that have tested my limits. I have lived in three different neighborhoods within the city, completely changed career paths, have had some of the best people walk into my life as well as watched some great individuals leave. Each and every experience has brought me a new perspective, which has created an ever-changing perception for me.
Do you feel better prepared after reading this post? If not, don’t sweat it. Just expect the unexpected and embrace change. New cities are a new chapter in your life, a chance to reinvent and grow. Use your Sun Devil spirit and take on the challenge!
~ By Katie Bassett ’13 B.S., who has a degree in supply chain management and an international business certificate from the W. P. Carey School of Business. Additional information was supplied by Samuel Brannan, a content strategist with Trulia, a company that develops innovative mobile and web products for home buyers, renters and sellers.