Coming from a family of immigrants, you’d think that I might have inherited some super gene that makes me adventurous, easily accepting of change and impenetrable to being shy. Unfortunately, that gene must’ve skipped me. Accepting change hasn’t exactly been my strongest suit- regardless of how many times I’ve been forced into a new situation (#militarywifeproblems). It’s not easy to make friends as an adult. But through my adventures, I have learned that there are 10 things you should do when you move to a new city to make the assimilation process easier. Wanna hear them? Let’s go…
Before I met my husband, I had been fortunate enough to have travelled somewhat frequently on an international level. In my twenties, I loved traveling and used my hard earned money to see different parts of the world. I looked forward to my vacations from work and was often sad to come back home at the end of each trip.
Then something changed. After I married my husband, we moved about three hours away from my family. Three hours doesn’t seem like a big deal to me now, but it was big for me back then. I missed my family, the comfort, and familiarity associated with home. It wasn’t like my traveling days because there was no end to the trip and I wasn’t going back “home”. It didn’t feel like an adventure so much as it felt like isolation.
I missed running over to a friend’s or family members house “real quick”. I hated missing the impromptu lunches or drinks with friends. I missed recognizing people on the street and knowing people well because I grew up with them. And dare I say, I missed the “STOP AND CHAT” with people I knew…
Getting used to a new place also includes getting used to the lingo and the ways things are done. In Connecticut, they didn’t laugh at my jokes like they would in Jersey, in Seattle, not bringing your reusable bags got you the “stares” and in Texas, I learned not to give in to my Jersey road rage- for my own safety.
Do These 10 Things & Make Friends!
So what can you do to make the assimilation process a little easier? Before you throw yourself into a self-induced depression, here are a few things that you can do when you move away from the comfort of home to find comfort in your new place:
- Get your self-confidence in check. Don’t be afraid to talk to people. You are awesome- regardless of how many extra baby weight pounds you’re still lugging around and/or how the maternity jeans you’re still wearing fit. People who are worth having around won’t care about all of that anyway.
- Be Yourself. You’ll find your tribe- the right tribe- if you just be yourself. People see right through the phoniness and believe me, you’re not going to want to put on a show all the time. If it doesn’t work with the first few people you meet, just keep trying.
- Get out and about. You cannot “connect” to a new place if you haven’t seen/experienced it. Staying home will do you no good. Start with all the touristy areas and work your way to the local hangouts. You’ll learn a lot through observation- lingo, customs and style.
- Join some groups. From Facebook groups to Meet Up groups and other social media pods, there are so many ways to make meeting people easy. If you find a writer’s group (and you happen to be a writer) meeting at the local Barnes & Noble, why not go? You might be shy at first, but the best thing to do, (to really settle in), is to get out and meet your new people.
- Trust in people a little. I’m normally the first person to tell you, “TRUST NO ONE”, because there are some crazy people in this world, but with an adequate amount of time (according to your comfort level), you need to believe that most people are inherently good. Common sense comes in to play here… for example, you don’t want to meet someone in an ominous-looking alley way, but if another Mom wants to meet for a playdate at Chik-Fil-A, why not go? Just make sure that you don’t put yourself in any extremely vulnerable situations.
- Seek your tribe. Chances are that you will like people that like the same things as you or that are in the same situation as you. No-one is going to come to your door asking to be your friend. You have to go and find them. And the best part is, you already know where to go. You won’t find your BFF at Gamestop if you hate video games. Go places that interest you and you’ll find people that share the same interests.
- Realize that some people just have “that” face. I can’t tell you how many people I’ve avoided like the plague because they looked like they wanted nothing to do with me. AND I WAS WRONG. You don’t know what’s going on in their lives that day, so even if they don’t look approachable that day, maybe try another time.Try not to judge. Be nice to everyone. Trust me, I know what it’s like to be mistaken for something you’re not. You have to give people a chance to get to know you and be open to getting to know them.
- Be positive. Assimilating takes time and although it might not be the ideal situation, yet… life is what you make it. Think of all the positive things about your new place. The more positivity you emit, the more likely that people will be attracted to you. No one wants to befriend a person that complains all the time. You might not be very comfortable where you are yet, but complaining about someone’s home town isn’t exactly the way to win their friendship. Think about the good things and focus on that.
- Get the Kids Involved. Assimilation is difficult for them, too. Getting them involved in a sport or other teamwork related activity helps them to make friends and guess what? There are other people LIKE YOU- Moms of kids who are the same ages as yours- at these events. You already start off with something in common- that’s a great way to make friends for the both of you!
- Just do you. Go on with your life- career, kids, shopping, experiencing, and it will all fall into place, eventually. It might take a while, but it will happen. Either you’ll find someone just like you, or you’ll change along with your environment and find someone that way.
I’m not going to lie, assimilating isn’t as easy for some people as it is others (especially if you’re an introvert). But if you learn to break out of that shell and move on, it’ll be easier on you. Be confident, be positive and be willing to get out. You’ll adjust sooner than later, and you can save yourself a lot of stress in the interim. Give your new city a try- you might end up loving it.
Have you had to assimilate to a place far away from friends and family? What helped you? Comment below.