Moving away is tough. Anyone who tells you otherwise is lying and would like you to believe their life is as together as their Instagram profile implies. Unfortunately, after a wine or four I tend to make decisions that see me moving to chase a sudden opportunity a few weeks later. If I have a talent in life it’s how to make impulsive life decisions appear strategic.
The first three months are great. True, I’m extroverted so exploring a new city and striking up conversations in cafes makes the whole experience feels like a holiday. Add to it the excitement (not necessarily fun) of finding apartments, new job, Ikea shopping — you’ve got yourself an exciting adrenaline fuelled whirlwind.
Then it calms down. You’ve got most of the shit together, and you take a breath.
And the next two months fucking suck.
I’m pretty sure there’s some sort of academic research that says people get homesick after three months, but I’m typing this at on terrible hotel lobby wifi so you’re going to have to take it on my word and anecdotal evidence.
The other morning, I spilled beetroot juice on myself at breakfast. I laughed at my freshly stained dress and immediately got irrationally upset. A few months ago I wouldn’t be accompanied by a report I was referencing, but by Ben, Steph and Nat. Or maybe Nikki and Jordan if my couch was home for the night. Or Mum and Jen if they wanted to watch me suffer through breakfast after a big night. Someone would have laughed at my now ruined dress and reminded me I can’t pull of the hippy look anyway.
Looking at the calendar, it had been just over three months since I’d moved to Brisbane.
Every time I’ve moved, it’s been a fantastic decision. Not only have I had the best adventures with the most phenomenal people, but I’ve been lucky that career wise and general ‘challenging-myself’ wise it’s worked in my favour. Eventually, when you finally regain some sense of normalcy. Chances are that normalcy will be a better place than you had pre-move.
But more importantly, how do you make the most of the time that sucks and how can you speed up that timeline.
Here’s my list of commitments I make to myself to make that time as non-terrible as possible.
- Talk to your friends This seems as stupid as messaging your ex, but remind yourself how good your friends are. Back home, abroad, the one’s not around. Reminding myself of people I have in my life because I moved to Canberra, responded to a flat share post, or changed universities, reminds me that if I’ve done this once (or thrice), I can do it again. Plus, a lot of these people are still talking to me despite my foibles, many I’m closer to probably because they only get a small dose of me at a time. Remind yourself that even if this was not the right move, there’ll be people waiting for you at home.
- Do something. Lots of somethings. Go to a movie. Buy a ticket to a concert. Read a book in a bar. I’m into comics, so I signed up for a comic book meetup in a local store. For those a little less likely to follow the adventures of a caped crusader, turn up to a weekly trivia night in a pub. In a new city, don’t say no to things because you’re going alone. Doing nothing is mentally exhausting. Look for something that you are even mildly interested in and just turn up. Arm yourself against the inevitable pangs of homesickness when you see your friends together on social media.
- Go on terrible dates This is the first time I’ve moved at a time when Tinder was a thing, and it is glorious. Mainly because of the aforementioned challenge with brunches. Don’t cull beyond those who have terrible banter, just ask your match if they’re free to join you for brunch at a café. Worst case, you have an awkward conversation and you escape after a coffee. Best case, good conversation and smashed avocado on toast.
- Exercise is great. Beyond Endorphins making you happy. Running and cycling help you explore a city and joining a gym is the easiest way to quickly set some structure and find familiar faces. A team is the quickest way to have a group of friends that will invite you along to a pub after a game. If you’ve got too much downtime with a gap before starting work/uni, exercise can kill a lot of time and not leave you feeling guilty about delaying building a bed frame.
- Remind yourself why you’re here It’s rare people pick up and move on a whim (again I’m assuming), there’s usually some sort of reason to justify it. I literally wrote the reasons down, and just check it every so often. Honestly, it’s a bit cringeworthy when I’m feeling fine. It’s worth suffering through those times for the reminder that the payoff is worth whatever you’re struggling with that day/week.
- Cut yourself a break. Moving is hard and there’s a lot going on before and just after you’ve arrived. You’re not a loner if you haven’t made a group of lifelong friendships. One of the best lessons I learned was that it’s ok to admit when I feel homesick, sometimes I need someone to remind me of the small victories I’ve had to get here.
Missed something? Probably. I’m still new here, so any advice you have is appreciated for this time and the next.
First published over on Medium.com/@amycahill
Amy decided she wanted to be Batgirl at age five. It hasn't really panned out, and now she is a tech geek by day helping businesses and government agencies deliver better experiences to their stakeholders. After hours she's a sport fanatic, music lover and part time MBA student.
. This site is a just a collection of the stuff that she does as a result of being a bit weird. It's occasionally updated so her mother knows she's alive.