I have always pictured my life out of college in a big city with a modern apartment and glamorous job. After work I could grab dinner with my fellow colleagues at a swanky restaurant and on the weekends I would have endless streets to explore and shop. Chicago has always been my city of choice. When I decided to start looking for internships for this summer, Chicago was my first option. Luckily, and to my surprise, I was able to get connected with a non-profit organization and land a social media internship.
Once the excitement of my new summer plans faded, the reality of living in a new city began to sink in. How would I know where to go? How would I get around? What would I do in my spare time? I grew up in a suburb of Detroit that was about 15 minutes from Ann Arbor and was not used to having to walk places, let alone use public transportation. As my moving date to the city grew closer, I became more anxious and nervous about how I would adjust to living in a new city alone.
I made arrangements to live with my grandparents, who live in a suburb about 20 minutes from downtown Chicago when there isn’t any traffic. However, driving in and out of the city during rush hour could potentially take hours, so I decided public transportation would be the best option. My sister has lived in the city for the past seven years and made me a schedule of trains I could take and a map from the station to my building. After practicing the route before my first day and eventually commuting multiple times by train, I am more confident in getting around the area where I work.
I have now officially completed a full week of my internship and am still learning my way around downtown Chicago. I now know the difference between the Metra and CTA, I can hail my own cab and have mastered speed walking.
Getting adjusted to a new city can be intimidating at first, especially when moving from a suburb to a big city. Here are a few tips that can help when getting adjusted into a new city.
Plan ahead. This can apply to everything, whether it is practicing your transportation paths days before you start or even just getting to train or bus stops before they are scheduled to arrive.
Explore. Spend time just walking up and down new streets and going into stores or restaurants. The more familiar you are with an area the more comfortable and at home you will feel. This also helps to meet new people and learn of new places to go.
Social media. As PR stars we are used to depending on social media to post about what we are doing and getting responses, but in this case follow Twitter accounts where you’ll learn about events going on in the city. It’s easy to do the “touristy” things, but to really embrace the city culture, find out what people who live in the city are doing.
-Allison Rumsas is a junior strategic communications major with a Spanish minor. Follow her adventures through the Windy City at @allisonrumsas.