Moving somewhere you have never even visited before is scary. I am actually still surprised I did something like this. I packed my life into three suitcases, got on a plane by myself and traveled for 20 hours to a new home. It wasn’t like me to make such a big jump, but I guess that’s why I am even more proud of the decision to go. If you had told 16 year old me, or okay even 24 year old me, that I would do something like this – I would have laughed and said “yeah right”.
But I really did it. I live in Bondi now. A new continent. 17 hours ahead. I kind of feel like I live in the future.
Before this move, I had lived in Illinois my entire life. I grew up in the suburbs, went to school in Champaign and then moved to Chicago after school for four years. I loved it. But I also knew I wanted to live in another place in my twenties. I had no idea I would be in Australia, but here we are.
I essentially closed out a chapter of my life to start a new one. One where I can’t flip ahead and find out what happens. The only person I knew here was Kyle (and thank goodness for that). I am so unbelievably happy we get to share this adventure together. But besides him, I moved not knowing anyone. No family here. Nothing. That’s scary.
In an attempt to find my way around and establish some new routines I had to think about what is important to me. This was actually fun to map out interests and ideas of how to meet people. Getting used to AUS will still take time, but I wanted to share what I have been doing to try my best to lean in.
Take or leave my suggestions. If you’re moving to a new place and feeling unsure, I’d love to chat about our mutual unsure-ness. I am no expert, I feel lost some days and I am kind of making this up as I go, but I want to offer my experience in case it will help anyone else take a leap or make a change.
Things I have done so far or am doing:
- Joined Classpass
- Classpass is like a fitness studio Disney World. You can book so many different types of classes and try different studios. I joined Classpass when I first moved to Chicago in 2016. It helped me find Studio Three (the forever home kind of studio). So, I knew I had to try it in AUS too. I did the two week trial and now I’m paying for the monthly membership. I love group fitness classes as a way to meet people! I have not been to a studio I didn’t like yet. They do fitness well here. And the people are so welcoming!
- Got a library card
- Reading has always been important to me. When I’m feeling down, I love to lose myself in a book. So, I knew getting a library card was a must. It was a top priority. The librarian who helped me get my card actually laughed at how excited I was. I am so grateful to have more time to read right now. There’s something really comforting to me about walking into a library and deciding I can learn anything, read anything.
- Airbnb Experiences
- I have loved Airbnb Experiences since the early stages. Kyle and I have done a few in Ireland and in Copenhagen. Nothing beats having a local show you a cool part of their city. These are some of my favorite vacation memories and we have met amazing people. AUS Experiences are the same. We did a day hiking trip with people from all over the world last weekend. Over ten hours of hiking, swimming, driving and exploring with a group of 16 and two local guides. I think it’s the best way to see places. And we plan on doing more while we live here!
- Both cooking more and trying new restaurants
- I heard on a podcast recently that one of the only things you have complete control over is what you put into your body. This hit me hard. It’s true. And when I’m feeding myself garbage, I feel like garbage. So, one of the nicest things I can do for myself right now is eat well. And eating well to me also means eating treats and high quality, high calorie meals. It’s enjoying food! I have been cooking a lot more after not having a kitchen for a month and I am enjoying cooking more than I ever have before. And I am also LOVING all the food options here. The restaurants are truly incredible. I find more places have healthy options, vegan meals are popular, and portion sizes are much more realistic. I will share a blog soon of all my favorite food spots so far!
- Joined a running group
- Running group, duh. I met some of my best friends through running in Chicago. Running is such a bonding experience. I wasn’t looking for a full time group training group, but just a fun run I could do every so often. After some searching, I found the Midnight Runners. They meet in Sydney every Wednesday evening for a 5K or 10K run with multiple “exercise stops” where you do lunges, burpees, etc for the length of a song. The run leaders wear speaker backpacks to lead the 100+ runners who show up. I am loving it. Kyle has been going with me and it is such a fun way to enjoy Sydney and get outside. Oh and the best part? It’s totally free. And welcoming. It can be hard to join a running group that seems like they’ve know each other forever, but this group made me feel welcome from the first minute.
- Encouraging group hangs with Kyle’s friends
- Since Kyle moved here 5 months before me, he has had longer to make friends. And luckily, he works with some pretty great people. Quite a few other Chicagoans have also come over to Sydney, so I have been able to meet some wives and girlfriends of his friends. We have done a few group hangs and I genuinely really like them all. As an introvert, it can be hard for me to be the one encouraging plans and meeting new people. But I am really glad I have been making an effort. Every hang has been fun. And also who knew I just had to win a few games of beer pong to impress some Aussies? The people here are pretty great.
- Searching for events
- I have been checking Eventbrite and Facebook Events regularly to find fun stuff to do in the area. Tonight actually I am attending the Almost 30 Podcast event with Jessica Sepel. And I am going ALONE! Crazy right? For me anyways. I am actually excited. I love this podcast and I know it will attract an awesome group of women. Events are a good way to push myself to get out there. If I buy a ticket, I will show up.
- 30 day unlimited yoga trial
- Yoga always calms me. For this transition period, I really wanted to get back to a regular practice. After trying Power Living on Classpass, I learned they offered a 30 day unlimited yoga trial for $49, so I signed up! I have gone every day this week and it is making a big difference for my mental health. I have also met some of the nicest people. Yoga people are good people. I crave yoga practice and the space to just “be”. Daily practice is really good for me. Going to be sad when the trial is over!
- Marco Polo
- I am especially glad I had friends get me on Marco Polo before I moved. It’s basically a video chat app that doesn’t require you to be on at the same time. This is SO helpful with the crazy time change. You can leave a message whenever you want, they’ll watch and respond when they can. It is helping me stay connected to my people and “see” their faces every day. I miss everyone so much, but Marco Polo helps me feel like we’re still hanging out. You can basically have a group text, but it’s all video messages that don’t disappear. I have friend groups, individual chats and even a family group. My Dad on Marco honestly cracks me up. I love it! Highly recommend this for anyone who lives far away from their people. Very thankful this was invented!
- Bumble BFF
- Another big out of my comfort zone thing: I joined Bumble BFF for friends. As someone who has never online dated, this is funny to me. But I made a profile and have been swiping and having convos with some girls in the area. Hoping this will turn into some fun coffee dates! I know a lot of other people here are in similar situations and honestly making new friends as an adult is HARD. It’s not like I’m trying to pick up friends at bars. So, this seems like a good place to start too. We’ll see how it goes!
This is what is working for me (so far). The introvert in me is proud of my little wins. Going somewhere alone used to freak me out, but now I do it all the time. I already feel like this experience has made me grow as a person and I am excited to see where it takes me.
I won’t lie and say that every day I wake up feeling positive and happy. To be honest, I still don’t have a set routine. I’m not working full time. And I really miss all my people. But I refuse to not make the most of this opportunity (even when I don’t feel like it).
I’m giving myself grace to just be where I am right now. I am not in a hurry to get to the next part. It is actually harder for me to sit and feel content where I am than be working toward a goal, so I am trying to get better at it. I am aiming to be comfortable being relaxed and stress-free. I am doing the things above to give myself some normalcy, meet people and acclimate. It is working, but it is a slow process. And that’s the thing – I can’t be in a rush. I don’t want to do things just to do them. How often do we get the chance to do absolutely only what we want to do? I am grateful I have the chance. And I won’t waste it.
So, while this week is hard being away from family for Thanksgiving and I know Christmas time will be even harder, I am choosing to focus on the good things here. Kyle and I are lucky to live here. We’re having a lot of fun and I also get this time to be selfish and really explore ‘me’. I am loving this city and the adventure. And I have a good feeling about where it will lead.