How to take care of a friend going through a transitional period.
June 22, 2010 12:43 PM   Subscribe

A good friend of mine is moving from their hometown in the east coast into a house with me and a couple of my friends in the west coast. We knew each other in undergrad and I made the move out 2yrs before earlier than her. This will be the first time she’ll be living this far from her hometown and as expected, she’s anxious, nervous, stressed about the whole move.

The catalyst for her move was realizing she needs some personal growth in her life and it needs to be away from friends/family. The decision has been made and there’s no turning back. Her tentative schedule is to try it out for a year and if all goes well, maybe stay longer. I’m her closest friend out here but she’s worried she doesn’t have a real support system out here. This is a transitional phase and there's always the fear of uncertainty and leaving everything you've ever known.

Aside from being available for her and being sensitive to her situation. What proactive things can I do to reassure her and calm her anxieties? Things to say, quote (ie commencement speeches), gift ideas, surprising her with something? Please feel free to share your personal experiences and ideas.
posted by Wanderer7 to Human Relations (5 answers total)
When my partner moved in from his hometown three hours away, I made sure I had some of his favorite foods and beverages in the fridge. Having some of her favorite local-to-her-hometown stuff might be good, but it also might reinforce the "look, you can't get this stuff here" mentality. But maybe if you can add some local specialties from the new town in there, that would be good, particularly if they're similar to what she likes. (Example: beers, cheeses, ice creams, chocolates, etc.)

Knowing where she can take part in some of her favorite activities will probably be a big help, since I imagine that relying too heavily on you might be one of the pitfalls of this situation. If she likes to see live music, knit, take aikido lessons, whatever, knowing that she has a place to get out and do those things will be great.

How about giving her some gift certificates to some of the best local (and locally owned) restaurants in town? Nothing fancy, just some of the places that locals really enjoy.

Also, on another tack, please don't coddle her too much. This is about experiencing new things, including fending for herself. Inspirational quotes are nice, but if I were in her shoes I'd most appreciate knowing that my friend had my back as I grew into my new place in the world. Experiences will probably mean a lot more than words.

You're a good friend for thinking of her!
posted by Madamina at 12:54 PM on June 22, 2010

The first month or two are critical. SHe will be homesick. You need to distract her. Spend as much time as possible with her introducing her to as many people, places and events as you can so that she can feel comfortable enough to build her own independent life.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 12:54 PM on June 22, 2010

I don't know. But I'm moving from Philly to the Bay Area for a job, which is on a one-year contract; it's a job in a career that I may or may not stay in. I've never lived outside the Northeast so this is kind of scary. I know a bunch of people from college (graduated in '05) who are out there but none of them are really good friends.

So I may have some of the same worries as your friend; your friend is not alone.
posted by madcaptenor at 12:59 PM on June 22, 2010

Introduce her to your friends, show her your favorite places. Make it seem like her new home is a great place that she'll want to get to know and might possibly stay. I once lived in a house with four roommates, only one of whom was from another state, and we had a ball showing her all the things we loved about our city.

At the same time, know that the transition might be hard for her and there may be days where she's sad and not really up for anything. That said, you sound like the kind of sensitive friend who would probably understand that kind of thing.
posted by corey flood at 1:00 PM on June 22, 2010

don't be her crutch. it would almost be better if you WEREN'T there because that would force her to go out by herself. instead, she now has you and your friend circle to build on. she won't be building her own life, she'll be building on yours, if that makes sense. this makes it possible for you to be the only friend she has there, which will make it worse for her.

she needs to go out and explore and get a job and make friends BY HERSELF. she needs to be "sally" not "wanderer's friend sally".

i say this from experience.
posted by misanthropicsarah at 6:52 PM on June 22, 2010 [1 favorite]

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