I lived in the Rochester area my entire life until last year. I was born in Canandaigua, spent my childhood in Palmyra and then ultimately moved to Naples where I graduated high school. After that it was just a hop, skip and jump away to college at RIT.
The plan when I graduated was always to move out of the area. I didn’t have a lot of opportunities to travel growing up, and I wanted to see more of the world.
I wouldn’t say my plan was to go to Pennsylvania, necessarily, but when life throws you a lemon, you’re supposed to make lemonade, right?
In college I traveled a bit more and even lived in Atlanta one summer while I interned with CNN, but none of that prepared me for what moving away from your home is actually like.
And the truth is it’s really, really hard.
When I moved to Pennsylvania it was a whirlwind. I didn’t have the financial luxury to take time off between jobs at RIT and my full-time job, so I started at The York Dispatch in York, Pa., only two days after graduation.
I slept on the floor of a kind stranger and fellow reporter’s apartment for one week while I juggled the transition to full-time work, finding a new apartment and navigating the area with no friends or family nearby.
After I found an apartment that first week, I traveled back to Rochester over the long Memorial Day weekend to pack up a UHaul with the rest of mine and my husband’s belongings and drive it back down to Pennsylvania. The UHaul needed to be unpacked and returned in just six hours to avoid fees and then my husband returned to New York to work another two weeks.
In a word, the whole experience was horrible, and that’s not to try to discourage anyone from moving out of the state they’ve lived in their whole life. If you do it, just do it better than I did.
For starters, give yourself time. That doesn’t necessarily mean you have to take time off between jobs, though if you can do that I would highly recommend it. I wish I had been able to take even one week off to spend more time saying goodbye to loved ones and organizing.
But if you can’t, just start to plan earlier. Start apartment hunting earlier and reach out to people you know in the area for help with this aspect. If you don’t know anyone in the area, ask your new boss for help or some coworkers.
Along those lines, start to make connections with those people earlier too – especially if you don’t already have friends or family in the area. It will be less lonely if you’ve spoken with a few of your coworkers and have the foundation for friendships started.
Definitely start to pack earlier. My husband and I procrastinated all our packing until it was two days before we needed to vacate our old apartment. This was not smart. I’d start packing two to three weeks ahead of your move. Begin with pictures and knick knacks and then move down the list to things you use more and more regularly.
No matter how prepared you are logistically, nothing prepares you from missing people you’ve grown up near. I called my mom constantly those first few weeks and sobbed about how much I missed her. I missed my friends and my familiar campus. I missed being able to drive somewhere without getting lost all the time.
This is normal, and it too shall pass.
I was miserable for the first month after my move, and I wish someone then had sat me down and told me to expect those emotions. Finally, one day I opened my planner, which has a weekly quote. That week’s was “No pressure, no diamonds,” by Thomas Carlyle.
Moving is an emotional, exhausting experience. You’ll hate every second of it. You’ll break down and want to pack up and move back home. You’ll be pushed to limits you didn’t know you had, but you will come out stronger and more experienced because of it.
I’m writing this blog post surrounded by boxes, packing tape and newspaper in my home in York, Pa. In just one week I’ll make yet another move to yet another state as I start a new job in North Carolina. This time I took the advice I gave above and now I know what to expect while living away from my husband, dog and cat for a month. It won’t be easy, but I can do this.
If you’re a local graduate looking into jobs away from home or if you’re just moving and experiencing the onslaught of hellish emotions, take a deep breath. I know it’s a lot of stress and pressure, but you are going to be the biggest, shiniest diamond after this. Learn from me and just hang in there.