Anxiety swallowed me whole the first time I moved to a new city. I wrote in my journal a few days after I’d landed in Rabat, Morocco’s capital: “He pierced through me with the tip of his fork, precisely in the pit of my stomach. The four spikes, they incited this tingling sensation—like butterflies, but not quite so sweet. And then it was dark. And I couldn’t see where I was headed, where I would end up. Anxiety had consumed me.”
I call that culture shock. I’d left all comforts behind—the ease of being surrounded by my native language, restaurants where servers know just how pink I like my burgers, pizzerias that save me the last penne slice before closing up shop, and even pharmacies that know when someone in my family falls ill, not because they’re refilling prescriptions, but because they get our holiday cards and we talk. Having familiar faces on every corner is what makes a place feel like home—and those faces are why memories are memorable.
I’ve since moved to Manhattan and am preparing to move to Brooklyn on my own, too. Naturally, moving to any new country, city or neighborhood unaccompanied and unsuspecting of what lies before us is intimidating. But it’s not difficult to meet people to make new memories, simply because you’ve got everyone to meet. Regardless of how near or far you’ll be, or of how long you intend to stay, here are ways to get yourself assimilated and make some friends or, at the very least, contacts while you’re at it.