Classic Advice: New City, New Friends

New City New Friends 5

There’s no denying that life after college can be tough. So many young women face the same challenge of meeting new people and trying to integrate themselves into a new city.

We turned to Stefania Rudd, our resident expert on starting over, for advice on everything from making friends to discovering a fabulous new hobby.

“First of all, what you are feeling is completely normal. It’s a weird feeling moving from a place where people called you every weekend to invite you to do stuff to being in a city where it is really easy never to leave your couch all weekend. You have to be proactive.  Of course this can be tough because you feel a little weird, but hey, do you want to feel a little awkward for five minutes and end up with friends or do you want to sit on your couch all weekend? So if you meet people that you like and want to become friends with, you will have to be the one to say, “Hey, if you go out this weekend, give me a call. I’d love to hang out.” And then over time, they will naturally say, “Hey, did you call Stefania to tell her about this thing we are doing tonight?”

When I left DC for NYC I missed it so much, and I would complain about how NYC was not as great as DC even though I had a killer apartment in a great area of Manhattan and really cool roommates to boot. The thing was I didn’t have all the amazing friends in NYC that I had in DC, and that was what I was missing. It wasn’t until I started taking improv classes a few months later when my life started getting better. Even though I didn’t like my job, my life outside of work was so great I was willing to put up with it. When the opportunity came for me to move to Chicago, I really struggled with leaving. I knew I wasn’t done with NYC yet, but the job in Chicago seemed like a better fit for me and I already had a small group of friends there.

Since I didn’t know tons of people in Chicago, I would go out by myself and check out the places in the city that I thought were interesting or events that I would like. It’s a little odd going out solo, but that does allow you to meet people.  I ended up meeting one of my good friends through a mutual friend who was DJing one night. We exchanged numbers and she invited me out with her friends the next evening. I went even though I knew I had only met one of the people in the group the night before, and luckily after meeting everyone else we all got along great – three years later we are still friends.

So where can you meet people? Good question. First I would think about your interests and see if there is a volunteer organization that would be a good fit. Like animals? Volunteer at the animal shelter or a pet adoption agency. Taking a class of some sort also helps: art, creative writing, improv, cooking, dance, yoga, etc. This is an easy way to do something with people after class. A great place to find people with similar interests is through a site called Meet Up: http://www.meetup.com/. It’s like the extracurricular clubs/organizations you would have done in high school or college. You can meet people who all like the color pink, are in book clubs or go on hiking trips!

And of course it is easy to meet people through Alpha Phi.  Joining an alumnae chapter or volunteering for a collegiate chapter are great ways to keep the Alpha Phi connection and find women in your new city who share in the bond of sisterhood.

Other organizations that will help your social outlet as well as your professional outlets are the Young Professionals Association and the Junior League. Even though these are member organizations – which typically means you pay dues – there are some great benefits to them.

Look into joining your university’s alumni group.  Most cities have alumni groups that hold various events from watching the game on Saturday to job networking meetings.

It is also really easy to constantly go back to the place you left and see your friends there.  Yes, it is important to keep those ties and remain friends with them and having visitors is always fun and a good excuse to be a tourist in your new city. But it’s also nice to have your old friends meet some of your new friends. At the beginning it is okay to go back, but if six months pass and you have been visiting friends in other cities more than your new city, that is not good. You want to make your new city feel like home rather than a place you visit occasionally.  I am not saying this is easy; in fact I still have a NY driver’s license because in my mind, I wasn’t going to be in Chicago long. “I’ll go back to NY, I thought.”  Well, next week I am getting an Illinois license. This is my home now, and I’m happy.

Starting over isn’t easy; putting yourself out there and making an effort to finding a new life in your new city will take time.  Keeping a positive attitude and not getting discouraged will help you start. Remember the more you put into something, the more you will get out of it.”

stefaniaSpecial thanks to our Transitions contributor Stefania Rudd –

Stefania was a member of the Theta Rho chapter at Cameron University. She now serves as the Program Manager of Member Development at the Alpha Phi Executive Office.  She currently lives with three friends (Samantha, Brad, and Kara) and two dogs (Asta and Zero) in a lovely 3 bedroom/ 2 bathroom apartment in Chicago.