Listen, being the new person in town is never easy. At some point in recent history, when you moved into town, nosey neighbors would pull back the curtains and watch you unload. They may have shown up on your doorstep with a batch of cookies and a welcoming smile. But today we are such a transient culture. It’s easy to move from city to city, country to country, street to street, and have never once met the person living right next to you.
Coming to a new place is strange. You don’t know where to buy groceries. You’re uncertain of the culture. You don’t even know where to start or where to get a warm meal. You can feel truly alone in a city FULL of people.
I’ve lived in Italy, Australia, Philadelphia and now Lancaster. Each time I had to start over. I had to make new friends, I had to learn my way around, I had to feel comfortable in a strange and foreign land. In many cases work, school or family can provide a network for you to explore and make connections. But as we get older, and of course wiser, it becomes hard to work only within those institutions, and in fact, it can become stifling.
And so it begins, a new series designed to make you feel a little less lonely, provide you with some insight and give you some place to start. I’ve reached back into the depths of my memory of what it was like when I first moved to town and how I survived. I want to share the things that have helped me cultivate the life I want in each new city, or even just the things that made me feel a bit more at home.
So let’s begin with what happens when your feet are planted.
Find a place that grounds you and makes you feel comfortable.
For me this was a bookstore in Sydney, a cafe I could sit and get lost in mountains of books and look out the windows. It was quiet and safe and I could assess the world around me while sipping on tea.
In Lancaster, it was Market. I loved the hustle and bustle and could meet new people three days a week.
Talk to EVERYONE.
The best friends I have made have come from random conversations that reveal a common thread between us. Whether it be where we’re from, a certain interest or an outlook on life, it’s important to cultivate relationships early on. These are the people who will give you recommendations on where to eat and shop, where to live, where’s safe and where’s not and where you can wash your socks.
Bring a notebook with you.
Write down EVERYTHING. Write down what’s happening around town. Write down names of places people have told you. Write down the places you want to check out at a later date. Write down how you feel at that exact moment and what your hopes are for this new place.
Buy something that will make you feel at home.
Creature comforts – coffee, a scone, a dress, a scarf, gloves, a book, art supplies. Treat yourself to something that will make you feel more comfortable.
Find a place that’s larger than yourself.
Check out the biggest building in town. Go on an adventure to a place of natural beauty. Put your journey in perspective with something larger than you, enormous even! When we move outside of ouselves, it’s easier to gain an understanding of where we are and the path ahead. It is also incredibly powerful to get grounded in nature, if you have the opportunity to.
Put away your phone. Forget the map. Make your own map. You discover the most amazing things when you follow your instincts.
These are a few simple steps to help you get started. It’s never easy to start over, but what an opportunity. You have a new place to discover, a place where maybe no one knows your name, where you will see new things are every turn and where you can cultivate a fulling life in simple ways.
So go onward, Transplant, and sow the seeds of your future in a new home.