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Keep moving forward: A three-step guide to living in a new city

| Tuesday, August 31, 2021

If the world you live in doesn’t allow you to dream and grow, then move to one where you can. That’s what I did when I traveled over 6,000 miles and started building a new life for myself at Notre Dame. And yet again, I set my bags down in a new city as I prepare to spend the semester in Silicon Valley. I keep moving to new places that I know will prompt growth and offer unparalleled opportunities because I religiously believe that all things magical happen outside one’s comfort zone. I hate feeling fenced in by a place that no longer challenges me and tests my limits.  

None can deny, though, that moving around so much and repeatedly starting over can be quite nerve wracking. It’s terrifying even. So for my first column of the semester, I decided to write about the three things that have made new cities slightly less daunting and a lot more inviting. 

1. Learn how to live with yourself.

Whenever we’re in an unfamiliar location, our social nature often entices us to start looking for people to surround ourselves with. We make small talk or attend functions that bore us half to death because we want to feel included in this new place. We become comically aggressive in our efforts to make new friends and find our crew. It is indeed great to meet new people and forge new friendships, yet we so often become entranced by that goal that we forget to enjoy our own company. When you move to a new place, try to really learn how to live with yourself: enjoy the new quiet apartment, take yourself out for dinner or coffee, go for walks or read at a nearby park. Whatever you enjoy doing, enjoy doing it by yourself as well. At first, it will be quite intimidating to walk in a cafe and sit at a table for one. You might be tempted to just pull out your computer or even sit on your phone to pretend you’re waiting for someone. But trust me when I say there is so much you will learn about yourself by just being with yourself. Your energy will shift as you better understand your own needs and actually take care of yourself. Give it a shot; I promise it’s worth it. 

2. Hit the ground walking.

When you’re in a new city, you really need to maximize the time you spend exploring. So try to walk or bike around as much as possible. I really believe that this is the best way to immerse yourself in a new neighborhood and find local gems that could become your favorite spots. It’s also a great way to locate the farmer’s market, a cute bakery or your favorite brand stores. So come on, stop worrying about getting lost and start hitting the ground walking. 

3. Find your constants. 

Being surrounded by so much unfamiliarity keeps you on high alert. Constantly being on your toes can be exhausting. So, wherever you can, try to find some comfort with familiar constants. Find a coffee shop or restaurant you love and become a regular customer. Routinely schedule some activities you enjoy doing. Schedule times to Facetime family members. Prepare some delicious meals that remind you of home. The list could go on for pages, but I’m pretty confident that you got the message by now: try to find your constants. 

It definitely took me a while and a whole lot of practice to apply these strategies every time I move to a new place. It’s always big. It’s always scary. It’s always intimidating. But it’s also exhilarating. It’s also fun. It’s also magical. So be patient and gracious with yourself and remember to keep moving forward, because all things magical happen outside your comfort zone.

Krista Akiki is a junior living in McGlinn Hall, majoring in business analytics and minoring in computing and digital technologies. She grew up in Beirut, Lebanon and moved back to the U.S. to pursue her undergraduate degree. She loves learning new languages, traveling and of course trying new foods. She craves adventure and new experiences and hopes to share these with readers through her writing. She can be reached at [email protected] or @kristalourdesakiki via Twitter.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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