After my failed move abroad, I quickly had to figure out what to do with my life. The original plan was to return to Boston but it fell through. So there I was: 23 years old, unemployed and living at my parents' house outside of Nashville. I spent four months applying to every job that I seemed qualified for. I knew that I didn't want to live in Nashville permanently so I sent my resume out to every city that I could see myself in: San Francisco, Chicago and Austin among others.
During this period, I traveled to SF to visit my friend Jon. He had left Boston for the Bay Area a few years prior and as I had never been, he was eager to introduce me to his new city. At first, I wasn't sure about SF. On my first night in town we went to a Northern Soul night at a bar in the Tenderloin. Coming from the "mean streets" of Murfreesboro, Tenn., and Brookline, Mass., I wasn't sure what to make of the gritty neighborhood. I interviewed for two jobs during my SF visit but ultimately nothing came of them.
Shortly after Thanksgiving, I was offered a position in SF. I was elated and shocked that they had chosen a candidate all the way on the east coast. I took the job and only a few days after Christmas, I left Nashville with two giant suitcases amidst jokes from friends and family about being sure to wear flowers in my hair.
I arrived at SFO in the early evening and took a cab to my temporary accommodation: a cute furnished studio within walking distance from my new job. I spent the few days that I had before beginning my new job exploring the area. I perused Craigslist for apartments and even arranged some viewings. I soon found the perfect place. My parents helped coordinate the great move of my belongings and by the end of January, I had settled into my new home.
Adjusting to a new job and apartment is the easiest part of moving to a new city. Making friends is an entirely different story. While I was incredibly lucky to already know someone in SF, I wanted to make my own friends. I joined MeetUp.com and through it I found a group of fellow Anglophiles. They have become my closest friends in the city. We're constantly arranging parties and nights out to see bands or go dancing. It's comical that I went to the UK to live in its music scene but found exactly what I was looking for right here in California.
I've fallen in love with SF despite its quirks and absurdly high cost of living. Getting a job here was the best hand that fate could have dealt me. Sure, sometimes I miss the relative quiet of Boston when I'm stuck on MUNI with a burnt out hippie experiencing an intense acid flashback, but SF has become my home. It's a vibrant city with an endless list of things to see and do. I love driving out of the city on the weekends to explore places like the Marin Headlands and castles built by eccentric millionaires.
Many of my peers are facing the trials and tribulations of starting over. Once our relatively stable college years end, anything can happen. A lack of jobs can force you to move back in with your parents. Actually landing a job can force you to move to an entirely unfamiliar city. Staying in your college town can be lonely once your friends scatter. Just as your life changes drastically after high school graduation, it does the same after college graduation.
Moving to a new city is exciting and terrifying. Just finding the nearest grocery store can be an ordeal. With the help of smartphones and companies like Zipcar, adjusting to a new city is a bit easier than it once was. There will be days and nights of overwhelming loneliness, but you just might find that moving to a new place and starting over is the best decision you've ever made. Nothing allows you to both reinvent and find yourself quite like escaping your comfort zone.