Although coming to a large city has opened a door for a lot of independence, it has also shown me how easy it is to feel isolated. With COVID-19 regulations and being in an environment where people don’t know me very well, isolation often feels inevitable. Especially if you are an introvert like me, initiating new friendships can be intimidating and a huge task. But getting out of my comfort zone and creating community has not only grown my character but has enriched my experience in New York.
Invest in the people around you
I started by intentionally being with the people who were around me on my off-campus program. These were people who understood my circumstance, and became people to lean on when figuring out a new life in a new location. It’s so easy to feel that you are the only one who is trying to figure it all out, but when you surround yourself with people in the same circumstances as you, you can see that you are not alone. Sharing the experience of being in a place for the first time also creates lasting memories and deeper relationships with the people who are with you.
Seek relationships outside of your program
Seeking relationships outside of the program also gave me a well-rounded experience. I did this by getting plugged into a local church in Manhattan called C3 NYC. Through this church, I was able to meet new people, who live in the city, during worship nights and dinners. It has served as a way to not only give me a community of Christians to encourage me in my faith, but also a group of local New Yorkers who can give me more insight into what it means to live here.
Stay connected with those away
Stay connected to your friends back at school and family back home! This is a way I could unpack and process my experience, and as I talked to someone outside of my situation, it helped me clear my mind. It is also a way to feel seen and understood when everything feels new. Being in an environment where people don’t know you very well can be discouraging, but reconnecting with people who know you can help you have a better sense of yourself, giving you the confidence to keep going!