I live in Winnipeg, Manitoba; a small city in comparison to most major cities in Canada. Everything about Winnipeg is cozy. You can get from one end of the city to other roughly within 20-30 minutes. Most areas of the city are easily connected and easy to find. There are great little “districts” to enjoy like Corydon (Italian), and St. Boniface (French); all easily accessible and easy to find if you are not from here.
But what happens when you are forced to leave your comfy, cozy digs in a small city and move to a new, thriving, bigger city for work?
Well, I can tell you from a first-hand experience. I am now living in Edmonton to work on a show at the Citadel Theatre and am now learning to gain bearings on a whole new environment.
There are quite a few things different between Edmonton and Winnipeg. Edmonton’s population in 2009 was estimated to be 783439. Winnipeg’s estimated population in 2009 was 672300. That’s a difference of over one hundred thousand people (for those who as bad at math as I am). Next, Edmonton is built upon a grid system, which in theory should make travel around the city easier considering all of their streets and avenues are numbered only (mostly). Wrong. Try finding the corner of 98th and 115th. Which one is which?
Edmonton however does have its advantages over Winnipeg. For those of you who haven’t had the chance to experience Whyte Ave (82nd Ave), you are missing out. This street found in Old Strathcona is a hub of excitement when the sun begins to set and lights begin to burn. Home to many pubs, bars, lounges and restaurants, this avenue is a buzz on the weekends especially during summer patio season (which I have yet to experience while I am here). West Edmonton Mall is also a highlight boasting its “Largest Mall in North America” status and it is currently the 5th largest in the World.
So, what are some tips to survive a city shock when you change locations? Let me help you.
1. Do Your Research
I didn’t do any of this because I enjoy a sense of adventure. However, if this stresses you out, then look it up! We are fortunate enough to live in a technological age where information about anything you need to know is at your fingertips. Google your new city and find restaurant reviews, upcoming events and the like. You’ll learn very quickly what’s happening and where.
2. Be Open to Being Lost
One thing that will help this switch is being open to experiencing things in stride. Be prepared to get lost and confused. I missed my exit to my gym twice on my first day. Understand that getting lost may put you in an unfortunate situation or you may find something new that you can’t wait to experience. Just don’t let it taint your time there. Embrace it.
3. Map It Out
Once you get to your new city, don’t be a hero. It’s okay to grab a map, use an iPhone app or purchase a Garmin. You want to feel comfortable while driving and not want to pull your hair out.
4. Ask a Local
I have found through travel when experiencing a new city to ask someone who is from there what the good places to eat, dance and drink really are. Tourism books can tell you lots, but a local knows the real deal. Ask your taxi driver, restaurant server or Starbucks barista. They will know.
5. Don’t Rush and Be Creative
If you are in this new city for an extended period of time, don’t feel the need to see everything all at once. Take your time and fill out your stay with many adventures. And be creative! Try new things. Whether it is a new coffee shop or a different style of cuisine, use this new experience to grow and cultivate your mind.
6. Have Fun
You have all your tools and you’re feeling prepared, so go out and enjoy your new city. It will be well worth it!
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