Southern comfort is the very thing that keeps a Southerner in the South. The traditions, affordable living and the family ties are just enough to discourage a Southern belle from leaving the South. Your aunties and uncles warned you about that “big city” life, but you decide to see what life is like outside of the South. This summer many BSB will be taking a leap of faith and beginning a new chapter in cities like Los Angeles, Chicago, Washington, D.C., and New York. Here are a few tips for college graduates and other ladies making a fresh start in a new region of the United States:
Remember You’re Not Alone: There are many Southern transplants like you in these cities, but you just need to find them. Meet-up groups, alumni networks and church are the best places to find transplants like you. It’s imperative that you find your Southern group of friends because who else will tell you about best café for authentic sweet tea?
Don’t be so nice: I remember at my first New York internship, my boss told me that a musician’s manager was laughing at how polite I was when answering the phone. She told me to stop being nice, skip the greeting and just say, “so and so’s office”.
Your consideration of others might be taken for granted and seen as a sign of weakness. You may be amazing at the work that you do, but native city slickers’ aggressiveness will sometimes outshine your work ethic and give them opportunities for promotions and recognition. Don’t let them run over you! Stand your ground and find ways to be aggressive without loosing your integrity.
Life without Beloved Franchises: Let’s be real, you’ll miss Chick-fil-a, Dairy Queen and Waffle House. You will even miss those late night drives to Wal-Mart and you will have to learn how to live a life at Target’s prices. Fortunately, the cool thing about living in the city is the abundance of one-of-a-kind bars, restaurants and clothing boutiques. How exciting it will be to post a picture of yourself enjoying a Cronut that can only be purchased at Dominique Ansel bakery in New York City or experience liquid nitrogen ice cream at Love ‘n Faith Community Café in D.C.
Shopping Cart Life: Grocery shopping and laundry will become daunting tasks. Your apartment building might not have a laundry room, so you will have to stack your coins and lug your linen down the street. Some buildings might not have an elevator and you will have to haul your twelve bags of groceries up several flights of stairs. Well the infamous “grandma” cart will save day and laundry and grocery shopping will be easier. This handy accessory might not match your style but it makes things less complicated.
Prevent the side-eye at lunch: I’ve overheard my co-workers brag about not eating all day because they had a french fry yesterday. I’ve caught some shade while eating a donut for breakfast a time or two and received a lecture from a Caribbean staff member about my ham sandwich. You’ll be exposed to vegans, vegetarians and people who are against all things pork. No more pizza parties on the company’s dime. Company luncheons or lunch outings will more than likely consist of exotic foods from other cultures, tofu, cold cuts and kale chips. The way you see food will significantly change and impact your lifestyle in ways you’d never imagine and that’s not always a bad thing. I never in a million years thought that I would have a body builder friend, learn that quinoa goes with everything or try avocado fries.
Open Your Mind. “Be open minded. You will be exposed to so many culture,” says Michelle Ricks, 26. This Virginia native explored different neighborhoods in New York and tried out new bars, restaurants and hot spots to get a feel for the community and her surroundings. “Immerse yourself in your new surroundings so you wont’ be so quick to dislike the city. There is something out there for you, you just have to find it”, says Ricks.
The best part about leaving your comfort zone is growth. You’ll learn how to stretch your dollar and live in small spaces, you’ll add healthier foods and cooking tips to your lifestyle and you’ll dine at specialty restaurants and shop at boutiques. Lastly, you’ll learn how to live among people with different cultures and apply that diversity to your life. With an open mind, your new city won’t be so bad after all!