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Adapting to your surroundings

Photo by: Emma Tierney


School’s back! But, for me, this time around is on a whole other level… college.

Just when I thought I was getting the hang of the high school scene, I get a diploma and I’m kicked out the door into the real world. Now I have to adapt to a whole new environment again (college), and I wonder, will it take me four years to get used to it? I hope not!

I feel like I’m a bit of an expert when it comes to adapting to new environments.

In my 17 years, I have lived in four different houses, I’ve moved three times, I’ve been to five different schools and, as a result, have left a lot of friends behind. Moving countries and schools always meant that whatever friends I had made weren’t going to be my friends anymore. I had to learn how to adapt to each environment quickly every time. But every time around I picked up new tricks on how to do this in a more efficient manner.

No one wants to be the newbie forever. Here is how to avoid waiting years to finally feel like you belong.

1. Observe Wherever it is that you are (it could be a new school, new job, or even a new country!), observe the people around you. What are they doing? How do they speak to each other? How do they act?

2. Make a friend Friends are key. Why? You’ll have someone to talk to in this new environment, and, as an added plus, they can talk you through things that you might have questions about. Or maybe they’re a newbie just like you, then you can both navigate through this new journey together!

3. Be ahead of the game Even though you might be new to the game, learn about the game! Do research about the place you are in. Research the requirements to stay there. What are the unspoken rules? Do the inhabitants find certain things offensive in this new environment? What are people into? If you are in a new school, research the calendar, check if there’s any events you can partake in. Get involved and learn in the process.

4. Let go of how good it used to be If you just graduated from high school, let go of high school! If you are in for a new job, let go of your last workplace! If you just moved into a new country, let go of where you were. Sure, reminisce about the places you were, but don’t hang on too tight. High school might be some of the best years of your life, but make college even better. It’s so scary to be on your own, and it’s understandable to want to be in a secure place, but you need to let go of it because, if you don’t, you will never appreciate the opportunities that this new change could bring you, the people you will meet and the experiences it can offer you.

5. Don’t change Although the goal with this is to adapt (and fit in) fast, don’t change who you are because of it. All of these new people don’t know you so it might seem tempting at first, putting on a mask and pretending to be a different person, but that’s the “easy way out”! You will find people who will accept you for who you are no matter where you are in the world. This universe is filled with wonderful people, you just have to be yourself to find them.

6. Embrace the chaos Last, but not least, embrace the chaos! It will be hectic. It will be scary. It will be overwhelming. But at the end of the day (if that’s a few months from now or even a year) you will see how far you’ve come and you’ll be so proud of yourself!

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