3 Tips on Making a New City Your Home

September 13, 2013

Editor’s Note: This is the first post in our Welcome To The Workforce series, which focuses on sharing advice, experience, and guidance for upcoming and recent graduates entering the workforce. Today we hear from Austin Pogue, a recent Dartmouth College grad working as a Recruiting Associate with the University Recruiting team. Austin has been living in San Francisco, his new hometown, for just two months.

You could say I’ve moved a lot recently. During the past five years, I’ve lived in San Diego, Hanover, NH; Rome, Italy; Oxford, England; Portland, OR; and finally San Francisco, where I see my roots taking hold for the first time.

My youth doesn’t often do me justice in trying to acquaint myself with a new city. At times I feel like I just don’t know what to look for when I arrive, but I’ve had to start from scratch enough now to understand what it takes to make a new city feel like home. Each time I’ve relocated, I’ve brought along no family, no close friends, and no identity beyond what my LinkedIn profile shows.

A move to a new city should be exciting and inspirational, reigniting the childlike wonder that led us down foreign aisles at the supermarket. I’ve compiled these suggestions to save fellow student travelers and recent graduates a lot of the confusion and feelings of isolation that prevented me from making the most of my transitions. In my opinion, to live like a local you must think like a vagrant:

1) Break in your shoes


I never considered myself a true athlete before moving to Rome for a Foreign Study Program. The best way to see a city—any city, at that—is by walking directly into the heart of it and following whichever road looks most interesting. I became a fearless walker and then a runner, pushing myself to my physical limit in order to cover the most ground. I returned to the States with a strained hamstring and a 2,000-page photo album.  I could still tell you today how to get from Trastevere to the Vatican.

2) Don’t be afraid to eat alone

table for one

Ironically, I’ve met more people eating alone than I have while on the move in any context aside from bar-hopping.  If you carry yourself well and are naturally curious (looking up from your phone to see what’s around you), people will be intrigued by who you might be, and you shouldn’t shy away from starting a conversation.

3) Ask questions

keep off the grass

This is probably the most clichéd piece of advice in existence, but I don’t think people are naturally inquisitive when floating around in their “alone” bubbles. When I say “ask questions” I don’t just mean for directions or restaurant recommendations—I mean apply your mind to its context and ask around when something doesn’t make sense. This is how to avoid a 50-pound ticket for walking across the lawn of St. John’s College at Oxford.

In my third month of living in the metropolis of San Francisco, I am already proud to call it home. The people, fancy food and art galleries—they all reside here with me like neighbors, and I am eager to take the tips I’ve learned to get more acquainted.