Dear LME: how do I find my feet in a place I just moved to?

Dear LME

July 4, 2022

Welcome back to another post in the “Dear LME” series. If you’re new here, this series is my sort of advice column for expats, internationals, and TCKs (third culture kids). It’s my way of using whatever wisdom and experience I can gather to answer those questions that you can’t just google! You can read more about the series here and learn how to submit your own dilemma.

This week’s dilemma is, “how do I find my feet in a place I moved to?” Aka, I just got off the plane in my new home, where do I start?

So I’ve moved twice so far in my life and the first move was with my family, so to be honest, I wasn’t much of a help, probably a hindrance as I was a grumpy twelve-year-old. However, almost exactly a year ago, I moved to DC for college and I was very lucky that my parents helped me move in and find my feet, but there was still a lot of settling that I did by myself. This summer I also moved myself into my new place here in DC after arriving the night before from delayed flights, having my bags get lost on the journey over, and sleeping on a friend’s floor all before starting my internship the next morning at 9am! So I feel as though I’m a pretty good moving in/getting-settled-planner.

In this blog post, I’m going to share three simple tips for what to do when you’ve just landed in a new country and you have to figure out how the heck to go about getting your life set up. This is all from my experience of arriving in a new place and knowing where I’m going to live and moving with most of my items and furniture (otherwise you’ll obviously have to add house hunting and furniture shopping to this list)

1. Get a SIM Card

The first order of business when I arrived in DC was to purchase an American SIM card so that I had data and could use my number to sign up for subscriptions, make a bank account, and place deliveries. I remember trying to set up online orders and things online before I arrived in DC and it was 10 times more complicated without a local number, so I would recommend this as the first thing you do. I had to get a post-paid plan as I didn’t have a local bank account yet, so that might be a consideration for you too.

2. Open a Bank Account

The second most important thing I did was go open my bank account now that I had an American phone number to set it up with. I mean, I don’t really need to explain why this is so important! But it’s important to know that you should have your phone number and address set up before you do this. Definitely, a key step to finding your feet and getting your life started in your new home.

3. Go Exploring

This is a piece of advice I learned from my parents, who have a knack for this kind of stuff. One of the things that I think is so important to get settled and doesn’t always cross everyone’s mind is to go for a walk around your new city/neighborhood and work out the lay of the land. Where are the main streets? Where’s the nearest train stop/bus stop? The closest grocery store? Workout spots? Running trails? Some restaurants to try out? The best coffee shops and bakeries? The closest UPS? This is important on a practical level, but also it helps you get excited about the new place! This is definitely something that my parents helped me with when I first moved here, in terms of giving me lots of recommendations for where to buy what around Georgetown, and what places to try around here. I remember during the fall semester around a month in I still didn’t feel settled and my dad came to visit to cheer me up and he found a few places where I could go for lunch one day, go study another day, or go for a walk and it just helps so much with getting settled and coping with homesickness! There are so many people who after living in Georgetown for a year, still don’t know much about what’s around them! This is so important!

Yep, those are my top pieces of advice for the “I just touched down in a new city, how do I get settled” type of dilemma. These posts in the Dear LME series are my way of trying to be the most help to you guys by asking you what your most burning questions are that you can’t google the answer to! They’re usually just a quick intro to a solution, but as always, if you let me know in the comments I’m happy to write a blog post on anything I mention in these posts.

See you next week,

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