Why You Should Move To A New City Where You Don’t Know A Single Soul
A while ago, I read an article published by Elite Daily called “Why You Should Move To A New City Where You Don’t Know A Single Soul”. The title seemed very intriguing and spoke to me. I had just, again, moved to a place I didn’t know anyone a few months ago and wanted to see if what the author wrote complied with my own experience. That’s why I decided to write a response to Elite Daily’s article from June 25.
You’ll make new friends who are refreshingly different from your old friends
I never had a problem moving to a place I hadn’t been before or didn’t know a single person. When I was 18, I first moved to a different city in Germany to go to college. After that, I went to Guangzhou for my 6-month internship and then moved to San Diego, California, to finish up my Bachelor’s degree. Now, I moved back to China, to Changsha in Hunan Province, without knowing anyone here either.
Every place I lived in, I met the most awesome friends. I made friends from all over the globe which opened my own mind and broadened my horizon. In my opinion, it’s important for people to try to fresh up who they converse with. You grow as a person, discover your own inner self much better and learn things about yourself you didn’t know had existed before.
You’ll be introduced to new and exciting ways to have fun
Each place on this earth is unique and people lead a different lifestyle in specific locations. In Germany, I used to go out on the weekends, meet friends in a cafe, go to beer festivals and enjoy a day at a thermal bath every once in a while with a friend. In Guangzhou, the lifestyle is much more different from that. I used to go out and do something almost every day. The city is impulsive. People shop, go sing karaoke and enjoy lots of different food.
Whereas in San Diego, people spend a great deal of their time outside at the beach surfing, sunbathing or swimming. People are more relaxed than elsewhere. I enjoyed BBQ parties, volleyball tournaments or walking around the boardwalks.
Each place on earth will lure you into its own lifestyle and there is no escape. You will always more or less adjust yourself to the unique way of life in a new place.
You’ll feel an overwhelming sense of freedom
I don’t think freedom has something to do with living in a place you have never been before. To me, it’s freedom when I live alone and can make my own decisions. I could do that living in my hometown as well. However, when you arrive in a new place, a sense of freedom overcomes you because of all the things mentioned above: the different lifestyle lets you experience new ways to spend you free time and new friends are refreshing. All those things affect the feeling of “freedom”.
You’ll develop the social ease to walk into a party on your own and not even bat an eyelid
Really? Honestly, I would not dare go to a party all by myself. However, I experienced a greater sense of self-confidence. When I first arrived in Guangzhou, I had this “F@uck it” attitude and did a lot of things without batting an eyelid. When I saw a cute guy, I just walked over and asked him for his number, when I saw a cute colorful dress I liked, I wore it, even though I would have never thought about it back home.
Living in a different city/country made me braver. I tried so many new things and have no regrets (mostly).
You’ll have the chance to reinvent yourself
Absolutely. I don’t know how much I changed since I first lived alone/abroad. My goals in life completely changed from the ones I had when I first decided to move out. I wear different clothes and have a different hair style. I talk differently and eat different things. My everyday life is much more different to the one I had just 2 years ago. Now, I listen to K- and Mando-Pop and enjoy going to Karaoke on the weekends. Who would have thought of that just 3 years ago?
You should always try out every possible way of “You”. Trying new things and change is not a bad thing. Just the contrary. It’s exciting and makes you grow as a person.
You’ll be empowered to realize you only need to rely on yourself
I agree 100%. Before I moved out, I didn’t even feel comfortable making my own dentist appointments. Now, just 4 years later, I managed to live in a different city in Germany, then China and also the US. During that time I could only rely on myself.
In China, I had to buy gas and electricity for my apartment at the local bureau. In San Diego, I had to deal crappy public transportation system without having a car. I managed to lead a happy lifestyle in foreign countries without or only little help of others.
Sure, it sometimes takes longer to find out how people deal with other things in another country but this shouldn’t let you down.
You’ll feel your comfort zone widen drastically
Especially when I moved to China my comfort zone had to widen drastically. I remember my first trip to Beijing when I was always looking for Western toilets to use the bathroom. Now, I can say I even peed in a public bathroom without doors.
It’s not only obvious things like this or food but also how to deal with people. People in San Diego are the masters of small talk and so strangers talked to me about god and the world every time I left the house. I opened up, and told them my story as well (not always accurate for safety reasons haha) and this is how I met a man in a San Diego trolley who told me I was the smartest person he had ever met (which is kind of weird…). I told him I was half German, half American and speak Chinese, lived in China etc. etc.
Living in China made my comfort zone widen dramatically as well due to the entirely different culture compared to Western countries. Especially personal space was an issue for me in the beginning since personal space is much smaller in China than in the West. People sometimes stand ass-to-ass with you on the metro and you just have to deal with it.
You’ll learn to enjoy your own company
Even though I love hanging out with friends, there are days when I enjoy nothing more but exploring the city/country on my own.
Being friends with locals when living in a foreign country is something you should definitely do but sometimes it feels good to do things by yourself to prove that you can do it without help.
You’ll realize you have the ability to conquer your fears
The first thing that comes to mind here is dealing with bugs, spiders and cockroaches or potential burglars in my apartment. I don’t know how many times I got up with a kitchen knife in my hand and dealt with some weird noises I heard that could have been potential burglars. Before, I would have peed my pants.
It’s not only things like this but also things that make you uncomfortable but you need to get used to in a different culture. Like I mentioned before, I was uncomfortable talking to people I didn’t know on the phone so I didn’t even make my own doctor’s appointments when I lived at home. Now, I overcame that fear because that’s what you need to deal with.
You’ll find absence makes the heart grow fonder
Living far away from friends and family is not easy. But it also reveals true friendship and love. Even though I rarely see my friends and family in Germany these days, we still keep a close relationship. “Absence makes the heart grow fonder.” is really a true quote. Being in a long-distance relationship also falls into this category.
All these long-distance relationships with family, friends or boyfriend are hard and require a lot of effort on each side but thinking of the next day we meet each other is a beautiful feeling.
You’ll grow and develop as a person
This is the ultimate result of all of the above mentioned points. In the end, the person I am today is a result of the past few years of my life living in a different city and different countries. All the experiences I made and the people I met made me grow and develop a new kind of me.
I can sincerely recommend anyone to go and live in another place at some point in their lives. If you are thinking about it right now, DO IT! Don’t wait! Now is the right time!
–> How has living abroad changed YOU? Leave a comment. <–
Good thoughts, Linda. I think another worth adding is that living in a new city will also expose you to new ways of thinking. If you move to a foreign country, the culture and worldview will likely be entirely different than yours. I think this is so important in helping you to see things from other people’s perspectives. And hopefully through that you’ll learn to appreciate the differences in others.
I left my family and lived on my own for three years in Hong Kong before I eventually got married. Those three years were incredibly life-changing in the way that it built up my confidence and my personal character in the process. They were probably the hardest three years of my life, but they were also the most rewarding.
yes definitely worth adding!
wow sounds great! i am sure it was both great and hard for you there!
What a strong article Linda! I can totally agree with you as I moved to a new city for high school when I was 15, without knowing any of the classmates beforehand. Then years later when I was 22 I moved to Guangzhou. It’s been eye-opening to take a leap of faith in your self and it’s totally been worth it.
I also have been living in new places few times so far. First I had my exchange year to Finland when I was 16. With 18 I moved to another city in Germany to do my high school degree in a sports school. After that I moved to Finland to do my military service, there I moved several times from place to place and now it all goes back for me to Germany, to my hometown just two floors above my parents apartment…
Certainly, my experiences are much less interesting or exotic as the places you have been but this all is something I would have never imagine when I was just 15 years old.
Whats in for the future? Who knows, perhaps I even move with my family to China at some point or somewhere else in the world, everything changes and new opportunities are opening up every day
I agree with everything that you have said Linda! When I was 17, I went to university in a different city. Although it was only 30 minutes from my home, it taught me things that I would have never learned if I were still living at home. I also noticed that I too became more confident after I lived out on my own. It’s funny because you can notice the differences between people who have lived on their own and people who haven’t. It sounds like you are very mature for your age, you will succeed in your life because you have a ‘can-do’ attitude which most people lack. Good luck Linda!!
thank you so much Maria! xo