Moving to a new city: You have just moved in and spent the last couple of days unpacking, and now you need to set off into your new city for a look around, and because you forgot to pack the dish soap.
Walking is always the best way to introduce yourself to your new space and to get a feel for the neighborhood. Go armed with a map and your new address written on a scrap of paper, just in case you wander too far. And before you strike out on your adventure, you may want to pre-plan your route by doing a little research first.
Almost every city, small town and community publishes a local newspaper, concentrating on a much smaller slice of life than the national papers. Look for the smallest possible denominator, that being the community paper, which will provide information on community happenings, ads for local retail shops and restaurants, and the news as it now pertains to you.
This kind of research can be done from your computer. Most newspapers now boast ownership of a website, with most of the same content readily and easily found online. The Newspaper Association of America offers a website on finding local papers, with an interactive map and city/town search engine that will find the news for you. It is a great tool to use even before you have finished packing.
In addition to local newspapers, look for free magazines available on most street corners or in local shops. Most cities publish one, if not two, which outline happenings around town and are a wonderful source for theatre, readings, restaurant reviews and the local music scene. And if you are a little older, don't let the twenty-something tone scare you off. Such magazines are a great resource for all ages.
Visiting your local library will not only stir a desire to read a good book, it can also be a great place to browse community bulletin boards, ask questions and find local maps and travel guides. If you get a chance, call ahead and ask the librarian what you need to obtain a card. Going prepared means you can take materials with you when you leave and gives you a true sense of belonging.
To find your local library, go to Public Libraries on the Net.
Recreation Centers and Community Halls
One of the best ways to meet new people, feel a sense of community, and at the same time, get in shape is to visit your local recreation center. The Yellow Pages or a quick search online using the city name and the word "recreation" will provide listings. Pursue classes that may interest you and make sure you check out the drop-in sport nights. Even if you are not a very good volleyball player, attending a drop-in night will guarantee you some new friends and a lot of laughs.
Again, check out the community bulletin boards and talk to the staff about your interests and what other resources might be in the neighborhood. While you're at it, push some weights, take a swim and hit the sauna. You deserve a little pampering after such a long move.
Maps and Guides
Little used and appreciated, maps are a newbie's best friend. Looking for a hospital or recreation center, church or library? Roll out a local map and highlight your neighborhood. Maps will outline where major buildings are located while providing a bird's-eye view of the immediate area.
While at the library, make sure you ask for a transportation map. Most cities provide bus, train, trolley and subway maps for free. Attached to the map are route schedules and sometimes even tourist stops along the way.
Tourist guidebooks are also your best friend. Even though you consider yourself a resident of the city, and can now look down on tourists, pick up a guidebook. Guidebooks will provide you with a quick introduction of your new surroundings, offer tips on where to eat, what to see and do and where to stay in case you forgot to contact the utility company. Just make sure you are not caught reading it on the street. You don't want everyone to know you've just arrived. On the other hand, reading it in a cafe might tempt a stranger to walk up to you and ask where you're from. And won't it feel great to tell them that you're from here!
Diane's Quick List
- Get Internet Access: this should be your first, or almost first, phone call
- Go Surfing: restaurants, grocery stores and coffee shops can all be found online
- Buy a Good Map: look for a lot of details
- Buy a Tourist Guidebook: go ahead read it in public
- Subscribe to a Local Newspaper: nothing says you're home like hearing the thump of a paper against your front door
- Get a Library Card: this says you have arrived
- Pick Up a Free Magazine: not only will you be in the know on local happenings and the hottest restaurant, you will look hip and cool
- Join a Gym or Recreational Center: add on a class or two or attend a free class usually included in your fee
- Find out about clubs that support an interest or hobby. This is a great way to meet people and to build a network.
- Sign-up for a Walkabout: most cities offer free, or almost free, walking tours, ranging from architectural tours to ghost tours
- Take a few days and explore!