Friday, September 12, 2008

Transitions are a challenge no matter what your age.

I found this on the blog of a student here in Maine. I thought it would be good to keep track of while we muddle through our transition to a different state.
So if you hear of me planning a trip back to Maine again or start finding reflections on settling into a new place on this blog, chalk it up to my taking some of these suggestions to heart.

With the whirlwind of things to do, it often isn’t until long after the move that one starts feeling the emotional symptoms caused by moving. Uprooting your entire life, and starting from scratch is one of the most difficult struggles one will have to face in their life. Getting situated and used to a new house, job, and school, while at the same time coping with loneliness, and trying to meet new people, can be exhausting and extremely difficult. Staying positive and making a real effort to become a part of the community will make the transition much easier.
Unpacking. When it comes to unpacking get it done, but don’t make yourself sick over it. Set yourself goals to get done on a daily and weekly basis. Until it is finished do a regular amount of unpacking every day. Allow yourself time each day to relax, and do some things that will take your mind off the move and eliminate stress.
Make your new house your home. If your landlord permits paint the walls. Hang up photos and artwork. Begin personalizing your home as soon as you get there. At the end of the day, when you feel lost, sad, or lonely, returning to a home that reflects who you are, and is filled with the things you love is the least you can do for yourself to feel more comfortable.
Pick up where you left off in your old home. Were you half way through a novel before you left? Do you do yoga every morning before breakfast? Do you have only one sleeve left to knit on the sweater you are making? Unpack these things first and work on them in between spurts of unpacking your home. Doing things that you would have done in your old home, will not only help you relax, but also aid in making your new house feel like home.
Make friends. This is probably the hardest part of a move for anyone. As children we were able to make friends with everyone on the playground simply by joining them in a game of tag. As adults it is much more difficult. Our personalities and interests have developed and finding others who’s interests compliment ours is much more difficult. The only way to really start making friends is by getting involved in activities, and getting out there. Yes, it may be easier to sit around the house watching reruns of The Office, but by taking a risk and striking up conversations or complimenting people around you, you are one step closer to a potential new friend.
Get Active. As soon as you get to your new destination start getting out in the community. Enroll in a dance class at the local community college, join a gym, or go to art openings. Not only will this take your mind off the stress of your move, but will most likely speed up the process of making friends. Look for a free local publication that lists events in the community. Look for fliers for shows when you stop in to get coffee in the morning. Look on Craigslist for weekend events, and search Yelp for good music venues. Find a place you like, and become a regular there. Over time friendships will naturally develop.
Get to know your new town. Spend time every day becoming more well acquainted with your new surroundings, the local movie theatre, where the closest park is, what streets are dead ends, etc. Get in the car, and drive around various neighborhoods. Don’t be afraid to get lost. I find that I learn the most about a city when I do get lost. Use the luxuries of the internet to help you find establishments that interest you. Look up all the coffee shops or sushi restaurants in your area, then do a drive by with each one on your list.
Stay in regular contact with friends and family back home. Write emails, talk on the phone, and send snail mail. Make it a point to talk to family and close friends at least once a week. If you get free weekend minutes on your phone plan this is a great time to take advantage of them, while at the same time catching up with loved ones. If sudden bursts of loneliness come on, don’t hesitate to call up someone you miss, and tell them how you are feeling.
Start planning a visit home. By planning a date of when you will return back for a visit you will greatly eliminate the initial shock of leaving. Letting others know when you are going to see them next will give you and them something to look forward to.
Start a blog devoted to your new life. Take pictures of your journey to your new home and write a short entry every day. Post photos from when you painted the walls, the mess of boxes in your living room, and how it gradually comes together. Write about how much you miss having lunch on Fridays with your cousin. Before you leave give out the address to all your friends and family so they can follow along and comment on everything you are doing.

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