Adjusting to any new place can be a bag full of mixed emotions. On one hand you’re excited for the new beginnings, but you’re probably also feeling nervous, stressed, or overwhelmed. This change can be especially difficult if you’re just moving to a metropolitan area, where things run at a faster pace than they do in the suburbs. You might feel like this makes it challenging to get to know your neighbors and acclimate to your new surroundings. Don’t worry, you’re not alone. I know that I felt all of these things when I first moved to New York City. That’s why today I’m going to share my tips on how to adjust to life in the Big Apple.

Pursue Your Interests

Protesters in NYC | Daniela Valdés

Even with 8 million residents, New York City sometimes feels like the loneliest place in the world. That being said, it’s also full of opportunities for everyone with every possible niche. No matter what you’re interested in, you can find a way to pursue your passions within the city. If you love politics, you could march in a protest. If fashion is your thing, you can take a walk down 5th avenue or attend Fashion Week. Looking for an unconventional fitness option? Try your luck at a pole dancing class.

Central Park | Daniela Valdés

Photographers, grab your camera and head to Central Park. If you appreciate the arts, go see a Broadway show, a concert, or Shakespeare in the Park. Following your interests will give you the chance to meet people who are like minded, which will help you find a sense of community in your new home.

Don’t be Afraid to Get Lost

A typical crossroads | Daniela Valdés

Getting lost in New York City is inevitable. But guess what? It’s the best way to get to know the place. Don’t be anxious about getting lost. Instead, embrace it! When you do find yourself misplaced, the first thing to do is slow down. Take a minute to observe your surroundings and figure out exactly where you are. Most of the streets in Manhattan follow a number system, so figure out which direction you need to go in versus the direction you’re actually going in. Are the streets going up or down? It can be hard to slow down in the intense foot traffic, but I guarantee it’ll lower your stress. Make sure to add some extra time to your commute as you’re getting adjusted, and that way you won’t have to worry about being late to school or work.

Learn the Public Transportation System

The Empire State Building | Daniela Valdés

New York has an extremely elaborate, but friendly, public transportation system. You have the subway, different bus routes, and ridesharing services. You’re going to want to become acquainted with it all. The subway is not as scary as it may seem. As long as you know which train to get on, if you’re going uptown or downtown (make sure to be on the right side of the track), and which stop to get off at, you can get pretty much anywhere and everywhere you need to go. You’re not going to memorize all of the different routes right away, but there are many apps out there to guide you. I relied on New York Subway MTA Map and Google Maps. Not a fan of crowds? Ridesharing apps like Via, Uber, and Lyft can be cheaper than taxis, and they’re great for privacy without the hassle of driving and finding parking. Or, if you’re looking to expand some energy, Citi Bike is a bike rental service with stations throughout Manhattan. You can pick up and drop off bikes at whichever station you like, and they have an app to help you locate stations and make payments.

Find a Happy Place

Find yourself an oase to calm down | Daniela Valdés

There will probably be days that you want to get away from all of the hustle and bustle of the city that never sleeps. New York can be overwhelming, especially at first, and sometimes a break from it all is really refreshing. Get to know your neighborhood, and find a spot to unwind when things get chaotic. It can be a library, a park, or maybe even just a pizza parlor. It’ll give you a sense of familiarity and a chance to clear your mind. I personally loved taking the train into New Jersey whenever I wanted to escape for the day, or even a couple of hours.

Step Out of Your Comfort Zone 

Variety of magazines | Daniela Valdés

One of the beautiful things about New York City is the amount of diversity you can find in one place. Take advantage of it, and try things you wouldn’t normally try. Go to that book store in K-Town (Korea Town), that bakery in Little Italy, or that ice skating rink in Chelsea, even if it’s something you’re not sure you’ll like. You might love it. And if you don’t, you’ll have learned something from it. No matter what happens, you’ll definitely have a new story to tell someday! You never know unless you try, and you miss every chance you don’t take.          

Becoming familiar with any new city can take time and patience, but don’t let that stop you. As long you’re aware of your surroundings and stay safe, you’ll find your way. By following these tips, you can make your transition into New York City much smoother.