by Parker Vige

You’ve finally taken the leap from being an awkward, camera touting tourist to being a full-on resident in your new city of choice. I say, Congratulations! It takes quite a lot of energy and ambition to move your entire life to a new place in the world, no matter how attractive and promising this place may be. Now that you’ve finished the unpacking and made all of the beds so-to-speak, what’s next? Maybe I can help.

As I set my bags down, and scanned over every inch of my new Budapest apartment, it wasn’t clear whether I should feel excited, anxious, trepidatious, or perhaps all three at once. In truth, it doesn’t matter what our age or experience, a big unfamiliar city is imposing even for the best of us. For this reason, I did what I do best, and began researching. I was searching for the quickest way to adapt myself to this new city; all I wanted was to enjoy my time here and become a significant contributor.

I soon learned there is no ‘quickest way’ to become a member of a community. By the very nature of the act, it takes time. Finding and building relationships takes time. That being said, there are several things I found to be excellent facilitators and catalysts to creating the life you want to live in your new city. And, here they are:

1. Start saying ‘Yes’

If a coworker invites you to a My Little Ponies tea party, accept the invitation. Doubtful this will happen, but the principle is this: say ‘Yes’ to every choice you’re given. Not only can your saying ‘yes’ benefit you by filling your void social life, but also it compliments the person who was bold enough to extend the invitation to you. It goes without saying that this principle should be followed sensibly, as you should venture out of your comfort zone but never to the point where you feel pressured to do something morally/emotionally/legally wrong.

2. Create opportunities

Sometimes it’s not enough to say ‘Yes’ because the opportunities are just not there. Instead, it’s our responsibility to create them. Find a community that interests you. If you want to meet up with travelers, use Couchsurfing. To meet running partners, find a group on Facebook. It’s just that simple.

3. Find a church

I was considering omitting this from the list, but truly it doesn’t matter if you consider yourself ‘religious’ or not. I’ve found churches to be the most open and flexible communities for anyone moving to a new city. Perhaps you aren’t looking to be influenced by their beliefs, but I promise they are the people most interested in having you as a friend.

4. Make a schedule

It’s too easy to stay in bed on your phone all day. Make a schedule where you get up everyday at a specific time, maybe do some exercises and then fix a cup of coffee. Don’t get back in bed! Plan a time each day where you explore a new part of the city.

5. Delete Netflix

Okay, even I consent this may be somewhat of an extreme measure, but I hope you get the point. If you allow yourself to fill your spare time with online games, movies, or music, you will be left empty and alone when the show is over. It’s okay to enjoy these things sometimes, but limit yourself. Maybe that means canceling your subscription or only watching one episode every two days, this is for your judgment. Be sure to fill your extra time with people, not characters and plot twists.

My only hope is that these principles help you accustom yourself to a new city as much as they have helped me. If you happen to find yourself in a difficult situation, and odds are at some point you will, this may be a good read. Remember, “Fortune favors the bold,” said Virgil.