Kat Whitaker, Coordinator for University 101 Programs, Texas A&M University-San Antonio
July 12, 2018
Picture this: You’ve just arrived in a new city, your car is unpacked, and what you really want is a good pizza. Where do you go? While a good Google search can help with this, moving to a new place is usually tough.
For me, transitions are often filled with excitement and worry. Will I be able to find a good and safe place to run? What will the grocery store be like? Do they have a good donut place? These may seem trivial (really though, I love a good donut), but when you’re moving to a new place the little things are often what matter most.
Growing up, my dad was in the Navy, so I attended three middle schools and three high schools, moving back and forth across the Atlantic Ocean a total of 4 times. In college, I studied abroad twice because I didn’t know what it was like to “sit still.” I’ve continued to move to new places and have gone through some difficult transitions since college, and it never got easier. Yet now, I know how to prepare for them better.
Here are my three tips for making a successful transition:
Tip #1 Find someone to eat lunch with
The lunchroom or dining hall can be a daunting place from middle school to college. When you get to a new job, this is an excellent opportunity to learn more about the institution and make connections on campus. I’m also an advocate of not eating lunch in front of your computer. Ask a new colleague if they’d like to eat lunch with you at a dining hall or even a quiet place on campus. I was lucky enough to join a small office when I started my current position. The other coordinator in my office walked to my door and said, “lunch?” Fortunately, our lunch group has grown and it has been a great opportunity to meet other people from across campus, learn about their work, and also make friends. Last spring, the people from our lunch group made a recreational kickball team. We also make plans for happy hour after work.
It is scary when you are in a city or even a campus and don’t know anyone. It makes a world of difference when you have at least one friend who you can eat lunch with and learn more about your campus and the community.
Tip #2 Do an activity you enjoy
Running is one of my favorite things to do; it helps me to relieve stress but also brings me joy. When moving to a new area, it can be a challenge to find a place to do the things you enjoy. Through a Google search, I found a running store in San Antonio that hosted a meet-up every other Tuesday. If you went to six meet-ups you got a prize. This was a great opportunity to meet new people who I didn’t work with and to learn more about the running community in San Antonio. I learned about trails, training programs, and races. Eventually my new new running buddies became my friends, and the Tuesday night meet-up became a part of my regular routine.
If you have other hobbies or interests look for those as well. Take advantage of the first free class offered by many fitness companies to see if you like that studio. Public libraries are also a great resource; they have a list of community classes offered if you are looking to expand your skills in an area or learn something new.
Tip #3 Make a bucket list
After college, I moved to Austin, Texas, and I struggled for a while to adjust to my new home. With the help of some co-workers from Austin, I created a bucket list of everything I should do in Austin and the surrounding hill country. It was great! The achiever in me wanted to check everything off my list before my year of service with AmeriCorps ended.
I discovered some of the best tacos, margaritas, and views Austin has to offer. I’ve continued this practice now. It helps when my partner and I are making weekend plans but aren’t sure what to do. When friends or family come to visit I can make recommendations based on my own experiences.
Making any transition in your life can be scary, especially moving, but remember that there are resources and support to help you in this new chapter of your life. Here is an article with more information on how to make moving and your new transition less scary and stressful. What other tips do you have for someone moving or transitioning into a new job?
Kat Whitaker is the Coordinator for University 101 Programs at Texas A&M University-San Antonio. Growing up in a military family, she has developed a deep passion for traveling: new places, people, cultures, and ideas. She learned to adapt and build relationships quickly, and she realized how scary transitions can be without the proper support and resources. That’s why she is committed to connecting students (and colleagues) to the resources they need to succeed.
Photo courtesy of kellycostellophotography.com
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