My mom used to bemoan moving when we were growing up, and I honestly had no idea what her big deal was until the very second that I had to do it all by myself. Moving doesn't seem that hard at all until you are faced with a giant ever-growing pile of crap that somehow all has an equal and not-quite-inconsequential shred of sentimentality attached to it.
I really don't want to talk about how to get rid of the dregs of your closet. I want to talk about what happens once you've touched down in the new home-for-now you find yourself in. How do you go from feeling like you're on a vacation that just won't end to feeling comfortable getting off the plane the next time you travel and this being the place you return to? I've moved my fair share of times as an adult, so I want to share some practical ideas with you, whether you're going to college for the first time, leaving college for the last time, or have just experienced some other life change that is marked by a geographical transplant.
1. Find a library. This is my number one piece of advice. I can't tell you enough how much libraries have felt like home throughout my entire life. Even in the most remote of places, I have always managed to find one! Libraries are a great place to not only check out books (probably in multiple languages!), but also resources for everyday life, accessible wifi and printing, volunteer opportunities, community gatherings, and more. Libraries are havens.
2. Unpack! TBH, I'm guilty of not doing this one. While my suitcases are all empty, the clothes haven't quite made it into their respective places (as in, "everything in its—"). And I generally leave my suitcases out and unzipped in the middle of my floor to expedite the packing process[es]. But the sad reality of this is that my room feels a lot more like a station in between places I'm coming from and going to next, rather than a little spot of my own personal zen, which it totally has the potential for. So, do as I say, not as I do: unpack, put out your pictures and books in a place where they won't get blown onto the floor, light your candles and buy some new ones, and make your bed every once in a while. Feeling like you're not just on one long Airbnb stay will go a far way towards helping you settle in.
3. Find a farmers market. This one is a little bit more regional, but you can usually find a place where people in the area are selling their produce. Sometimes it looks more like community shares on an actual farm, sometimes it's a bunch of stalls set up in a parking lot, sometimes it's in a high school football field, what have you. It's a great place to find local food, get out of your apartment over the weekend, and connect with other people who live near you, all at the same time.
4. Find places to be active, both alone and with other people. Everyone likes to move in different ways, places, and times of day. I find it really valuable to find where I can be active by myself and with others, since I like both for different reasons. This takes away some of the stress of one of the unknowns of somewhere new, and it could turn out to be a good way to meet people.
5. Look up free events. Moving is expensive enough while you're getting used to where the good happy hours and produce prices are, so give yourself a break from budgeting stress and check community boards, newspapers. and city websites to see what cool things are being offered for free!
6. Find out how to live there legally. This is definitely the worst thing on the list, but it's just part of being an adult, I guess. You would have thought that at some point in our 16 years of schooling/generally being reared, someone would have told us: this seems crazy, but it's possible to break the law by not doing anything, not just by doing something that you already pretty much know is bad. I once accidentally lived illegally in the Philippines for 4 months at the tender age of 18, so I would say if you're going to try it anywhere, start there.
7. Find a way to do something you love. Making friends out in the real world is hard, there's no question about that. I figure the best way to do it is just to start doing the things I know I love, and hope that some people with similar interests will be there and then we can automatically be friends.
8. Find a place where you want to become a regular. My roommate says the first step is finding out the employees' names! Nothing will make you feel more welcome than showing up to a place where "everybody knows your name." Or at least where you know everyone else's.
What are your favorite things to do to make moving more manageable?