This year marks the 3rd time I've moved somewhere new for a period longer than 4 months.
First I went from Salem, MA to Los Angeles, CA for college.
Then came Los Angeles, CA to Melbourne, AU for a Study Abroad.
Now, the place I call home for a year is Chicago, IL.
Moving was always hard. You're always leaving things behind: friends, family, beds, game consoles, restaurants, etc. Sometimes you feel a sense that you're a perpetual traveler, with no real place to call home.
But I wouldn't give up this experience for anything in the world.
Just putting yourself somewhere new and scary is the catalyst for so much growth. Just by virtue of being somewhere new, it forces you to evolve in so many ways.
Here are 5 things I've learned moving to new cities:
1. Making friends is harder than it looks.
Thrown in a new environment, you literally have no one to back you up and say that you're "cool". So you have to start building your cred from day one. And sometimes this can get lonely.
But because no one knows who you are, you feel so much more freer to be who you really are. You don't have to be known as the kid who tripped at the high school talent show to Mrs. Johnson down the street, You don't have to maintain this person that other people in your life boxed you in as.
You can just be you.
2. Define for yourself who you hang out with, what activities you participate in, and how much you need to live.
Unlike at home, you get to decide your housing situation.
Granted, things won't be as nice as the places your parents could buy you, but this place is yours. No one can tell you what to do. That is freedom.
Along with making friends through the activities you do, you get to decide who makes it into your friend group. You're not bound by geography on who to hang with anymore. You can meet people based on interests now.
3. Be prepared for a 2-week slump of homesickness if you aren't prepared from the get go.
When I was just starting off in many of these places, I didn't know anyone.
This caused me to miss my previous friend groups a lot. "Why did I make this decision," I would think to myself, when I could have chosen the easy thing to do (which is staying where I'm comfortable and with friends).
Every time I moved, there was a period of time where I just felt depressed. Like I was stuck in this new place with no one to help me.
But I got over the hump every time. And you can too -- which leads me to my next point:
4. You're better at surviving than you think.
Every single day in a new place, you gain a little bit more confidence.
Congratulations, you actually survived another day! In the pre-historic days, this would have been a major accomplishment. It still is. You've reached a level of independence where you don't need to rely on others every single hour of your life.
In those moments where it's just you -- you start to grow comfortable with it.
5. The world is too small not to immerse yourself in it.
I think passing through different countries on vacation is really fun.
But it only gives you a glimpse of what the city is like. It's like only tasting the mascarpone frosting of a tiramisu (which is undoubtedly delicious) but never getting down deeper to the coffee-soaked lady fingers.
Initially it is difficult to really sink in that you're actually living in a new place.
But once you get over it, you'll gain so much more confidence to dictate your own future. At least that's what I've found.