Seven ways to make a new city feel like home

I have a friend, an interesting friend indeed. Top guy in the corporate world, very smart, smart in a way that at times when he speaks, you can mistake him for being arrogant.

Out of curiosity, seeing how he has become such a ‘Nairobi Man’, I decided to find out when he first came to the city.

He said boasting, “I remember very well my first time in Nairobi. I can never forget that Friday in 2001. Everything seemed different from the village. Alighting at Akamba bus stop and seeing a two storey building for me was a dream come true.”

At this point I bursted out laughing. Who could have ever imagined that this guy, who now hangs out with a certain calibre of people, fifteen years ago was such a village boy. Curious to know more, I continued probing …ehe…and then?

“I had just been accepted to University of Nairobi, not just any university, The University of Nairobi.”

I laughed again, unbelievably on how he stresses ‘The’ and the fact that he insists to date, that I have  to underline ‘The’ whenever referring to The University of Nairobi.

“I was the first person in my village to go to university you know?”

“Oh really?” I said as if surprised.

“Oh yes, and it was a big deal then. It is still a big deal today but then, those days, it was something else. I remember my weekends with friends in down town Nairobi. Those were the best days of my life. Finding my way from the village to the city, completing my studies and now getting to rise up the corporate ladder and very soon maybe, as it seems to be the trend,  I want to pursue politics. My father would have been very proud of me.”  He said with some sense of pride while securing the cufflinks on his  long-sleeved shirt.

“Oh, so you have political ambitions?” I asked, just to confirm that I heard it right.

“Now that I know Nairobi well enough, and I have been assimilated, I think it is time to go back to my roots.” He said vaguely.

I was taken aback, I pretended like we didn’t have the ‘politics conversation’ and then I quickly moved on swiftly with our earlier discussion of settling in a new city. I wanted to know his experience, considering that he has been nudged by life into moving into different cities out of Kenya for work. I wanted to know how it all went for him.

So, in this article, from a man and a woman’s perspective, here are some of the best tips to help you minimize loneliness and dislocation and start embracing your new life in your new town that you now call home.

1. Know the culture

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Culture is the way of life of particular group of people. Ranging from language, religion, cuisine, social habits, music and arts. For the first weeks before joining your new city, make an effort to learn more about their culture. Some countries and cities may be totally different from yours in everything. My friend lived in Ivory Coast for one year. He tells me he had to learn French. This goes for me as well, I have been able to master the basics of the Italian language so far and more is expected of me if I have to be fully assimilated in the society.

2. Use your networks

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We have to thank social media for this point. You may be in a new place but old friends or acquaintances can assist you with finding some new friends in your new city. It just takes some few seconds and you could be meeting a friend of a friend and before you know it you are BFFs. If you are one of the many people who opt for reaching out to organized volunteering groups, go for it. In Rome there are many organizations like Order of Malta and Boabab Experience where you can volunteer. Find your local chapter and drop them a mail.

3. Agree to everything

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I am currently taking Italian Language and Culture courses at Scuola Leonardo Da Vinci. In my class, we are ten, all from different countries. This means that almost everyone has something interesting going on that they would like to do or explore. I have realized that we always quickly say YES to any suggestion floated on the table. Be it having lunch in a new restaurant, visiting gardens or catacombs, I have learnt not to say NO. This is the only way I get to meet new people and make acquaintances.

4. Plan your weekend

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When in a new place, your weekends can be long and boring if you do not plan well. ‘Uncle google’ as I call it, is your best friend. Check on different activities that you can do  in the weekend. Some music, some art, food festival, theater, any interesting idea you can pick up from the net and incorporate it in your activity planner. If you are an indoor person, find some movies, some recipes, invite some friends over, bake together and play some indoor games.

5. Explore

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To call a place home, you have to explore. Walk it! Be courageous and get ready to be lost. In my first months in Rome, I promised myself that every day after school, I was going to exit at a metro stop and explore the neighbourhood. Rome has three metro lines: Metro A, B and C. Metro A and B are interconnected so it has always been easier for me to explore all the stops along these two lines. Six months down the line, I am happy that I have a rough idea of where the important places are and that I can reach them easily when I want to.

6. Don’t be afraid to try something new

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Oh-oh. This has to be the most difficult part for me. Especially with food. I have such a basic palate and anything that is out of what my mama used to make when we were growing up, I eat it with lots of caution. I taste it first with a little frown, then I raise my eyebrows as I swirl it on my tongue just to see if it is something that can go down my throat before swallowing. It has taken a lot of effort to be able to try new food. But now, woohooo, I am loving everything, ok- still struggling with eating octopus. Remember, life is all about trying new things. Go for it!

7. Learn to pat yourself on the back

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Veteran movers can confirm that it is an emotional roller coaster being away from home. There are days you wake up and you are fine, you are happy, and then you are excited about everything. Then, there are THOSE DAYS!!! You wake up and you dislike everything, days that you walk down the streets, with balancing tears on your eyes and you wonder why being an adult must be this hard! Those are the most difficult days. And that is when you need to quickly take a moment and focus on how far you have gotten. How far you have managed to sustain yourself. Look at the mirror and say, “I brought myself this far, I must have done something right!”

Always remember, things will get better, keep moving!

How about you? Have you ever changed towns, city or country?  Do you have any tips to add on the list? Let me know on the comment session below 🙂

With Love,

CVR

 

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Comments (37)

  • Avatar

    FastDonna

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    find here

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  • Avatar

    Betti

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    Ppl like you get all the brains. I just get to say thanks for the answer.

    Reply

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    Sian

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    I stumbled on your blog today and I love it. I am panning to visit Rome next year and google has been of help in terms of planning, not forgetting friends too.

    Reply

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      CVR

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      Hello Sian. Thank you for passing by PeachesonBlue. Am sure you will love Rome so much😊 Bienvenuta🤗

      Reply

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    Estrella

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    All of the above points are so true! I can definitely attest to #2: Use your networks. With social media at our fingertips, it is now easier than ever to find people and connect, especially when living in a new city. I have been living in Rome for 5 months now and it’s still doesn’t feel like home only because I still can’t believe I’m here, but it helps to get out of your comfort zone and experience new things/meet new people.
    http://www.lacasabloga.com

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    Dorothy

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    It’s fun reading from you. You made me feel as though you were addressing me one on one. Very captivating. Keep it up!

    Reply

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      CVR

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      Hello Dorothy. Thanks for being in this journey with me:-)

      Reply

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    Charllotte

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    First time reading a full article on the blog and love it!!!! Keep on doing u hun, u are going to beautiful places….

    Reply

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      CVR

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      Heya Charlotte. Thank you for passing by PeachesonBlue. Am happy you loved the post 🙂

      Reply

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    Cami

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    Grande Vidah!! As I am settling in Jordan, I really appreciate the topic.

    Last month settling in Amman and now starting again in Irbid (well, much less choices here around).

    My tip? I like to waste time around the city. Finding a spot to sit, enter a coffee shop and read, doing as I’ve always been in that city, mixing new places with those that are starting being familiar (just because you enjoyed them once before). Mixing discovery time with relaxing lazy days. Nchallah it will work again!

    Baci

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      CVR

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      Ciao Cami.I Am happy you passed by PeachesonBlue. I like how you mix new places with those already familiar. Coming from a veteran mover, this is very useful. Thanks for the tip and many hugs coming your way in Irbid. See you soon:-)

      Reply

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    Bentoz

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    Brilliant! Keep up the good work CVR. I love reading your posts. Thanks for the insight.

    Reply

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      CVR

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      Dear Bentoz. Thank you for stopping by. I am glad you found this useful.

      Reply

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    Phoebe

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    Aww very nice piece vidah. I have been travelling a lot coz of the nature of my job. And one important thing to add on this is, as much as we want to learn about other cultures and people, we should learn so much about our own countries. People will ask you so much about where you come from , politically, nature and even your own culture. It’s not fun when someone asks you something about your country and you have no idea of what they are talking about!
    About languages, that’s my favorite part. Am learning french so fast and am thinking of adding some Chinese ☺. Can’t wait till am fluent 💃. Good job nyar sifuyo

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      CVR

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      Heya Phoebe. How is your French and Chinese coming through 🙂 It msut be very intresting! Your tip of one knowing his/her own culture is spot on! The number of times I am asked about Kenya is impressive. I totally agree with you that once you step out of the boarders, you became an ambassador in some way. It will be nice to share experiences on our Kenyan culture:-)

      Reply

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    otieno

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    Nice post. Keep up the good work

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      CVR

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      Heya Otieno. Thanks for passing by on PeachesonBlue.

      Reply

  • Avatar

    Anonymous

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    Nice post. Keep up the good work

    Reply

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    Carole Benard

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    Just loving your blog the more!! Gal, I always smile and happy for you that you did it, something I would love to do but scared if I can maintain….

    Reply

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      CVR

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      Hello Carole. Thanks for being with me in this journey. I encourage you to challenge yourself and go for it. You will be amazed what you can do 🙂

      Reply

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    Anita

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    This is soooo helpful. Grateful for the experience you’ve had, it’ll sure make mine easier.

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      CVR

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      Miss Anita, I have all raw notes for you hun 🙂

      Reply

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    Tom

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    Hey buddy! Great Article. I am learning a lot from the insightful piece.

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      CVR

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      Hello Tom! Thank you for passing by PeachesonBlue.

      Reply

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    Apio_oguna

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    Interesting read. Keep on keeping on

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      CVR

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      Heya Apio. Thanks for passing by 🙂

      Reply

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    Jayne'I

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    I love.

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      CVR

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      Heya Jayne’I. Am glad you loved it.

      Reply

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    G. Odek

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    Human beings are wonderfully made. With ability to adjust and adapt. It all depends on attitude. – PS 139:14. In as much as I’ve never quite gone beyond Kenyan boarders, I’ve had the privilege to live in about 5 different towns with very different practices. Besides my optimistic attitude, I believe that having friends I share similar values with (fortunately so ww) is what helped me cope the most. Kudos Nyaginga.

    Reply

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      CVR

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      Hello Mama. Thank you for your continous support and passing by PeachesonBlue. As always, your tips keep me going. Lots of love :-*

      Reply

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    Deep Blue

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    Hey CVR, great post! I found myself reflected in many of your words. I have been traveling the world, seeong many places and meeting many cultures. I believe you have to undress yourself of all preconcepts that you have in order to truly understand a new culture and finally feel free. I also know THOSE DAYS…when you think that you can’t make it and that there is nothing that feels like home. However after taking a deep blue breath, you realize that home is were you make it, were you accept yourself and that challenge called life. Great job!! I will be following this blog with curiosity…keep amazing us!!

    Reply

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      CVR

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      Hello Deep Blue. At some point I thought that I was being sensitive by having one too many of THOSE DAYS:-) I promise to follow your tip and take a deep blue breath when it all seems challenging.Thank you for stopping by PeachesonBlue.

      Reply

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    Sasha

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    Yet another beautiful post! Heya CVR. I am loving this blog by the day. Keep up the good work😎

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      CVR

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      Hello Sasha. Thank you for always stopping by.

      Reply

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    Grazie

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    Hello CVR, I can relate on each and every point here. I am currently in Malta. I have been having real emotional roller coasters😩😩 How have you been dealing with yours?

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      CVR

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      Hello Grazie. I would like to let you know that it is normal to have these difficult times. When my low days check in, I try to keep myself as busy as possible. I try to engage in out door activities as much as possible. My friends and family have also been very supportive with continous calls just to ensure that I am settling in well. Another thing that works for me as well is listening to some happy music when am low. This immediately boosts my energy and lifts my spirit. I suggest that you find a default activity that makes you happy, something that you can always fall back to when you feel low. I wish you all the best in Malta and let’s continue in this journey together 🙂 All the best Grazie.

      Reply

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