Lindsey and I both come from small town America. We went to undergrad away from home, got full rides to graduate programs even further from home and eventually landed in NYC (as most performers do.) I actually live in Jersey, but it feels easier to just say I live in the city. (More on our musical studies and journeys to come in future blog posts.)
Each step presented us with a new city to discover, but honestly, academia provided us with friendships and all kinds of events, so nothing much was left to be desired. Post-academia adulting in a new city, with no family, and barely any friends is a whole new challenge. If you are reading this, it’s probably a challenge you have faced or will be facing. We won’t go into the painful details, of being poor and alone in a foreign place, but we WILL give you some steps to remedy and counteract the challenges that you will face.
This is about owning your journey and your choice to be in a new, wonderful place- and even moreso, finding the courage to make it your own.
Here is what you need to do.
- Become a local at your neighborhood coffee shop
Just do it. Go there as often as possible, ask the cool baristas their names and tell them you just moved and how much you like their place. After a few regular trips they will know your order and your name. So even though you might feel completely overwhelmed and unknown, you will have created one place in this city that feels a tiny bit like home. (This is coming from a real life barista! We have regulars we love, we know their names and orders and always have fun conversations.)
- The same goes for Bars.
Find one in a neighborhood you visit often; find the vibe you like and visit weekly. You can sit at the bar and get chatty with a cute man bun or ask about the best drink they make. It may seem out of character for you, but give it a try! I had a friend who brought her laptop and worked at bars during the day while sipping wine. When the bars or coffee shops are not busy, it is not a problem at all to camp out for awhile!
***Big tip here is to TIP. haha. Especially as you are becoming a regular at this bar or coffeeshop, take the time to be a generous tipper, it will ONLY result in good things for your future. The barista’s and bartenders will be super likely to give your freebies in the future and will look forward to your visits, giving you a solid first impression.
- Audition at all the LOCAL opera companies
I wish I would have done this as soon as I arrived to the city! Besides the fact that singing with a company keeps you in the business and in the mindset of a performer versus getting lost in the world of temping it is the best way to meet people. We can all admit, it’s easy to bond with singers, we are a friendly, funny and excitement-loving group. Generally, our life paths have been similar, and we are from all over the country, mutually trying to forge a career. The smaller companies in NYC range in their caliber of productions and budgets. Ask around, or ask online if you want the scoop before auditioning. I’m of the opinion if it is a role you want to learn, what is there to lose, really? Even if it is unorganized and something you won’t be inviting anyone too – you still learned a new role, get to put it on your resume and hopefully bonded with some cast mates over the whole experience.
If you are in Jersey, like me, or don’t mind traveling for rehearsals. I absolutely loved my time with The Light Opera of New Jersey performing The Gondoliers. In the city, who hasn’t worked with Amore Opera? They double and triple cast shows which gives young singers so many role opportunities, plus, you will make double the connections. I still run into these castmates all across the city, making me feel a lot closer to home than I thought.
- Meet Ups
Whatever your interests, meetup provides a platform for you to meet new people who want to do and talk about the same things. You could find meetups for: runners, budding chefs, writers, book clubs, singles, ect…
- Online Dating
Even if you are anti-online dating, this is a great way to discover your city! Take the pressure off yourself to meet your dream man and instead aim to find your new favorite brunch spot! #goals
Pro-tip: without even having to meet up with strangers, while chatting, ask them their favorite place in the city. Then take a screenshot and call it a night!
I wouldn’t know, but I presume this would be a great way to establish routine and normalcy in a new city. Hitting your neighborhood gym in the morning then your favorite coffee shop where they know your order and then off to work sounds pretty pleasant and makes you feel like a well adapted adult. Then you can counteract this at night by binge watching Netflix and googling how to file your taxes. (as one does)
NYC has running and cycling groups you can join, for all levels of experience that could be a great addition to your week, as well as free yoga in the park in the summers.
- Church & Volunteering
If you grew up going to church you will find the routine of it familiar and grounding.
Churches almost always have a Young Adult group that will meet weekly, so drag a coworker or roommate and check it out!
There are countless organizations you could volunteer for and it will definitely make you feel like a part of the city’s culture.
- Google Maps
Did you know you can make custom google maps with pins of places you want to go to?! You can make your own tour for the day, or share your map with visiting friends. I made one as a “bucket list” map of places I want to try! When I’m in the city with time to kill or out with friends, instead of yelping a place, I can look at my custom map and see if we are close to one of my bucket list hot spots! This blog helped me figure it out!
- Take a tour
Even though NYC is somewhat commonsensical in it’s layout, I still find myself in a permanent state of lostness. Thank the Lord for google maps. I have been on some tours and never regretted it. I like that you could tour an entire borough which would give you a real sense of direction, one area at a time!
- One Step at a time
It’s OK to be lost in your new city and to find yourself home alone some nights. Give yourself time to explore and grow into your city like a new pair of shoes, that might not fit quite right at first, but in time, will come to be your favorite!
Until next time, we believe in you! Have courage and take on the city, darlings!
Liebe und Küsse! 💋