Whether you moved here for a job or because you watched “You’ve Got Mail” one too many times and pictured yourself walking down the same streets (whoops, just me?), welcome to New York City! We are a city of 8.5 million people from all over the world, and that’s what makes the city so vibrant, diverse, and creative. You have world-class food and theater at your doorstep, so it’s a real bummer to feel too sad to take it all in. Just know in advance that it’s normal to experience homesickness, no matter how many amazing distractions you have here. We at NYC Navigator have compiled a few tips to help you feel more at home!
1. Join a group of people with similar interests!
If you are a client of NYC Navigator, we will do this for you by inviting you to fun group outings and activities with other brand new New Yorkers! However, if you are not a client, we still have some ideas on how to surround yourself with new friends.
In my most lonesome time in NYC, I bought a Groupon for a standup comedy class. What better way to distract myself from homesickness than to jump into an even more uncomfortable situation, amirite? On the first day of class, we were asked to introduce ourselves on stage using the microphone. I was shaking and so nervous; it turns out I had terrible stage fright. To my surprise, so did everyone else! Through this terrifying experience, many of the students bonded and became fast friends. I would not recommend a standup comedy course for everyone, but think of any skill that you would like to learn more about. Or, think of a group of people that would feel like home to you. NYC almost definitely has a group or class for you.
2. Pick some (limited) favorite ways to connect with your friends and family back home!
When I studied abroad in Sweden, I felt particularly homesick around Thanksgiving, which is a time I was used to feasting and laughing with family while the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade played on our television set. To help me feel closer to home, my beloved family streamed the parade for me and placed the laptop at the dining room table so it felt like I was there (kind of!) That evening, I met with Americans who were also studying abroad for a Thanksgiving potluck, and I brought the pumpkin pie! Try to limit the amount of time you are working to recreate your old home to a few special holidays per year, but it is absolutely worth it for these moments and memories. I will never forget our sad attempt at making a pumpkin pie!
3. Find a routine that works for you!
We love our bodegas and bagel shops here. Maybe you will too! Once you find your regular deli, coffee shop, gym, or weekly class, things will start to feel like home. Eventually, the employees at the places you frequent will start to know your name and will know (without you asking) that you like an egg and cheese on a toasted everything bagel (whoops, me again). It’s exactly at this point that you will chuckle to yourself; you have been inducted into an elite club called New Yorkers.
4. Know that you are *never* alone!
I don’t mean physically, although this is also true. You are never REALLY far away from another human when you enter our city borders. What I meant is that New York is full of people who have come from all over the globe, and also people who moved here from towns of 300 people (me)! People all around you are experiencing culture shock and homesickness too. Plus, the city is filled with artists who dabble in transforming their emotional pain into the art that will someday hang in the MoMA. Find comfort in knowing that we have all been there at some point, whether our homesickness manifested as a good cry on the 7 train, or as a standup comedy class. The point is, you will get through it and it will make for a good New York story!
There is a lovely quote in one of my favorite movies, “Paris, Je T’aime” in which a lone American traveler is sitting in a park bench in Paris’ 14th Arrondissement. She is watching the children playing, taking in the lovely weather and sounds and smells of this new, mysterious city, and says “Sitting there in a foreign country, far from my job and all the people I knew, a feeling came over me. As if I recalled something, something that I had never known and for which I had been waiting. But I didn’t know what it was. Maybe it was something I had forgotten. Or something I had missed my whole life. I can only tell you that at the same time I felt joy and sadness. But not a great sadness. Because I felt alive. Yes. Alive.”
You’re alive and well in the greatest city on earth, and we are so happy to have you here! Welcome home.