Thursday, April 9, 2009

We’re Not in Kansas Anymore: Tips for Successful Relocation

Finding Your Place in a New Location

For many students, aside from moving to East Lansing for college, their first exposure to moving somewhere new is during their first internship or Study Abroad experience. As a seasoned student nomad, my advice to anyone who is having anxiety about moving somewhere new is to relax and enjoy the new experience! If my mental math is right, since coming to school, I have moved into and out of nearly 7 dorms, apartments, or host homes and spent almost a year 80 to 2000 miles away from MSU/home. Let’s just break it down this way…if I can move all those times and survive, there’s a solid chance that you can too. Here are some ways to make relocation significantly less painful.

Do Your Homework

Doing some research on the area you are moving to will help you get an idea for the major demographics of that area along with get a feel for the general “culture” of the area. Here are some suggestions to lead you in the right direction:

  • Put on Your Tourist Hat: Check out tourism websites for the town you are moving to. These usually have summaries of local events, attractions, good places to eat, etc. Making an effort to experience unique activities that are special to your new location can really boost your connection to your new location in addition to just being something fun to do when you’re not at work!
  • Go on an Adventure: Not doing anything for the weekend? Grab a friend or two and take a Road Trip! You don’t have to go far, but check out something new. Go on a photo scavenger hunt around town, drive to the nearest body of water…find a reason for an adventure and high tail it out of town!
  • Learn a New Skill: Many medium to large-sized cities have community education classes or community colleges that hold workshops or classes year-round. These are a great opportunity to meet new people and try new things. For example, if you are interested in painting, try taking a class in your new location. Prices for classes vary wherever you go so find something that is affordable, fun, and something you’d really like to try out.
  • Connect to Alumni: Michigan State has entire databases of alumni all of the US and internationally! Take advantage of this resource to connect with other Spartan fans in your new location. Some cities may even have an active MSU Alumni Association. Sometimes the best medicine for home sickness is being around people who know all about Dairy Store Ice Cream, Sparty, and love MSU sports as much as you do.

On top of taking advantage of activities in and around your new location, a great way to get accustomed to a new area is by networking with your co-workers at your new company. In some cases, your company may already have ample networking opportunities for interns/co-ops/new hires, but that may not always be the case. Here are some sure-fire ways to take networking into your own hands:

  • Anyone Hungry? One easy way to network with other employees is by starting lunch groups or inviting someone new to eat with you.
  • Volunteer. Many companies encourage their employees to volunteer in their community and will even host community service activities. Ask around to see what activities may be coming up. In most cases, these activities are fantastic opportunities to network with all levels of employees. You never know when you might end up volunteering alongside big-wigs in your company!
  • Plan Intern Social Events. While some companies have intern social boards, others may not. Take the time to meet your fellow interns and see what their interests may be. If several of you are passionate about rock climbing, research local climbing hot spots or take a trip to the nearest climbing wall.

Even though moving to a new place can be daunting, it is not the end of the world. More times than not, after about two weeks in your new location, your anxiety levels will decline and any homesickness you may have will have passed. By taking charge of your experience, you can make your move work for you!

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