Moving to San Francisco was never a grand dream of mine. In fact, at this time last year, when I was contemplating what would happen after I graduated from college – I didn’t really know what I wanted to do. I felt a little lost, a little out of place, because I didn’t have a perfect picture of where I was heading in life. But one thing led to another, and I landed a great job in the big city, so I decided to roll with it. I think that it is important to step out of our comfort zone every once in a while. And what better time is there, to start a new chapter of life in a great new city, than 22? So I found myself here in San Francisco, and I’ve learned so much over the past few months. This experience has been a great adventure and led to lots of change – most of it really good! Here’s my advice (and what I’ve learned so far) for those of you moving to a new city, too.
Take everything in. My first morning in San Francisco (after sleeping alone in my apartment – my roommates hadn’t moved in yet) I went to the neighborhood cafe, ordered a croissant and latte, and just sat, taking everything in. It can be overwhelming at first. Trying to figure out how the front door lock works, which bus you’ll take to work, where is the best place to buy fresh produce, and how to set the thermostat. So take it slow those first days. Give yourself time to absorb your new surroundings. Start to appreciate the little things that make your neighborhood unique – like the amazing french pastries at the corner bakery, or the bright morning light that streams through your bedroom windows. And remind yourself that all the other concerns and chores will fall into place eventually.
Take chances and try new things. This one can be tough for me, since I’m definitely a creature of habit. I look forward to spending time at home, and relish simple pleasures like cooking and organizing – especially now that I have a beautiful kitchen! But it’s important to put yourself out there. If you fall into too much of a routine too quickly, you’ll miss out on so many interesting and fun events and opportunities that your new city offers. So I’m learning to say yes to invitations as often as I can – mostly from my roommates. A weekend hiking expedition, Thursday night happy hour at the Embarcadero, or a fast shopping trip after work. These activities have helped me to adjust to my new surroundings, and shown me how many opportunities exist outside my own house!
Look for friends in unexpected places. One of my best college buddies recently moved to a city where she doesn’t know anyone. As tough as this must be at first, I’m super impressed by her efforts to make new friends in many different settings. Unlike college, when the friend-making opportunities were pretty much built into our daily routine (dorm neighbors, orientation buddies, and new classmates), out in the big city things are different. It takes more effort to connect, and requires you to put yourself out there in ways that might seem uncomfortable. My friend has made successful connections in unexpected places like a new church group and evening adult class, so think beyond only colleagues and roommates when searching for your new group of pals.
- Confide in your loved ones. I know, you want to feel independent, confident, and self-sufficient as you embark on this new chapter of your life. But don’t be tempted to conceal or push down any insecurities or homesickness that you might be feeling. Instead, remember that these feelings are totally normal. I pretty much always feel homesick for the first couple of days in a new place – whether that was my freshman year of college, my home stay in Paris, or yes, my adult apartment in San Francisco. If you’re feeling lonely, call up your best friend or mom – no matter how far away they are – because they will always be there to remind you how much they love you and how awesome you are. Know that the homesickness will pass as you become more comfortable and start to find your people.
- Trust yourself. When it comes to new situations and new people, always follow your instincts. Whether that’s deciding whether a certain apartment (and the roommates it comes with) will be the right fit, or whether to trust a new friend, have faith that your heart will guide you to the right decision. And stand up for yourself when you need to. Negotiate the hell out of your rent if that is what will allow you to live in the apartment of your dreams, and stand firm with your roommates when it comes to chores and house rules. Most of all, remember that you moved to this city, made this big life change, for a reason – and you can do this!