Sick of Living @ Home? Moving to the City Guide
The Presidents of the United States of America encapsulated the simplicity of country life when they sang “Moving to the country, going to eat a lot of peaches.” Unfortunately, city life is more “hustle and bustle” than “quiet and peaceful”. But as the old Playschool favourite goes “Living in the city is fun” and by following these few tips you can make the most of the first few difficult weeks!
Lesson #1: Have a dvd series on stand-by
When I first moved to Melbourne, I was thrown into the deep end of the unknown in the form of a jail cell-like room in a private college filled with strange people. The sight of my mum waving goodbye was excruciatingly frightening so I decided to attempt to make friends with other students. After psyching myself up to make my way through the throng of people, I bravely stepped into the communal lounge room.
No one acknowledged my existence.
I cannot tell you the sheer despair I felt at that moment. The following day I dragged my sorry soul to Myer and purchased the first season of Charmed believing that I would simply become a hermit with vast quantities of knowledge of popular culture. I didn’t even get to the third disc. On my second evening I tried my luck at establishing a social life once more. Happily, a friendly Mexican exchange student, Juan, was quick to approach me and it wasn’t long before we were cooking together and comforting each other through random flairs of homesickness.
Lesson #2: Clubs are your ticket to an improved social life (that’s right, throw the high school cool book away!)
Getting out and about is of utmost importance for all students who have to move away from their home towns to begin tertiary studies. As hard as it is to put yourself in the face of strangers, it is the only way you can begin to feel at home. Don’t sit back when classes start, ask the person sitting next to you if they’d like to have coffee after the lecture. Joining university clubs is by far the easiest way to meet people who share your interest and I would highly recommend staying at a college if you can afford it. Although they can be noisy and messy to the point of unhygienic, they are also a fantastic way to meet many people from many different places and students often make friends to rent with after the first year.
Lesson #3: Orienteering
Do you still see the same doctor who delivered you at birth? Did the lady at the supermarket go to school with your mum? Does your main source of entertainment come from the domestic arguments floating over your next-door-neighbour’s back fence? If you answered yes to any of these questions, chances are you are going to be overwhelmed by the utter enormity of suburbia. Get to know your way around as soon as you arrive. There is nothing worse than getting sick and having no idea where the nearest doctor is. Find out where you can buy groceries, see a movie, purchase greasy hang-over cures and fill up your car.
Lesson #4: Taxi drivers WILL rip you off
Not knowing your way around can be extremely hazardous when in the company of stingy taxi drivers. They have a sixth sense for disorientation (and not just the kind caused by alcohol) and will take advantage of your naivety. Even if you can’t remember every road in the city, at least have a quick look at the shortest route from wherever you are going out back to your new home. Unless you are stuck in peak hour traffic, taxis fares are usually calculated by the distance of your journey. So if you are unaware of your own whereabouts you may find you are taken on a scenic route several kilometres longer the quickest way home.
Another important tip, especially for young women, is that not all taxi drivers stop you taking advantage of you financially. We all hear the horror stories about women being taken down dark one-way streets and back-alleys but we always assume it will never happen to us. It can. The easiest way to show your driver that you mean business is casually mention their taxi registration sticker (if there’s not one in the front passenger window, do not enter the vehicle!) and ask where their depot is and sit in the back seat if you are alone. This lets the driver know that you have taken note of their registration number and gives you an easier escape route if you need to disembark at any stage.
If your taxi journey is only going to take a minute or two, you may find you are rejected by countless drivers. It is illegal to refuse a fare but they will still do it. You are better off telling them you live in a suburb far away but in the vague direction you need to go then pretending to get a text message and “changing you mind” about the destination.
Although the prospect of moving from a tiny country town to a large metropolis can seem daunting, there are many benefits of urban life. You appreciate the availability of trains and buses, not to mention the fact that you can buy coffee at any time of day and shops are open past two o’clock on Saturday AND Sunday! There are countless parks and gardens to regain your affiliation with nature and if the concrete and smog gets too much, at least you have a convenient escape venue back at home.