How to Make a New Environment Feel Just like Home 

There are so many ways to learn to love a new environment, all you have to do is change your perspective!

Traveling to a new country for college can be a difficult and trying experience but most of the time it is a great chance to learn, grow and develop better adaptation skills. 

Reality is, just like you, I left my home country to pursue a degree at the University of Cincinnati, and whether we left for the same reasons or not, I am positive we share the same feelings of homesickness, nostalgia and disconnect. That’s why we have each other though, right? 

There are so many ways to find what you love about your home country where you are here in this current moment and ways to explore and make this new world your home & playground. 

Downtown Cincinnati could look like New York

Here are 5 resources on how I adapted- or at least tried: 

  1. Branch out of your comfort zone & socialize! 

Go to group meetings with iPALS, a student organization for international students and find if there’s a club that you can relate to or would enjoy attending meetings for through UC clubs & societies

It’s hard as it is having to adapt to cultural differences and going through culture shock so you can find people who share the same feelings as you and build a community of support and love around you!  

Just trust that people, just like you, are trying to find you the way you are trying to find them and reach out to them with that in mind. 

  1. Explore things that remind you of home! 

My home country’s capital, Beirut, is filled with cafes, restaurants and work environments that encourage long hours of lounging and when I first arrived here, I struggled with not having access to many.  

I started researching and found so many around Cincinnati and it made me feel much more acquainted with the city and I started to feel a sense of belonging. 

If you like cafes too here are a few suggestions: Upside Brew on Ludlow Street, Urbana in Walnut Hills, Bowtie Café in Mount Adams, and Mom & Em in Clifton. 

  1. Don’t be afraid of public transportation- do what you must to get around! 

I hesitated to face transportation as more than just a pedestrian when I first arrived. I was so stubborn and chose to simply walk absolutely everywhere, and though it’s a good workout- it was extremely exhausting and difficult to plan around. Later I started to discover more forms of transportation. Here are a few really good options: 

  • Lime & Bird Scooters: 

There are scooters all around campus that you can “rent” for minutes at a time through their respective apps for a very reasonable price and they are easy to drive once you get a hang of it. Most importantly, remember to never drive on the sidewalk! 

  • UC Shuttle: 

There is a circuit of FREE shuttles set up by UC for students to take as transportation around campus. Their schedules can be accessed through Double Map and online right here.  

  • Cincinnati Metro-Card: 

As a student, you receive discounted transportation options through the public bus system making all rides $1. The card can be mailed to your address and all you must do is download Transit, an application both accessible on iOS and Android. Learn more about the public transport right here

  • Bike Stations: 

If you can ride a bike, you for sure must check out the RED bike stations all around Cincinnati! You can rent the bike and ride around the city and just drop it back off like it never happened! Feel free to find more information right here

  1. Search for local restaurants that make your home country’s food/ cuisine! 

Cincinnati has a very rich culinary identity and it’s quite easier than you think to find so many different types of cuisines. When you do, you’ll taste a piece of your home country in your new home and that will make you feel like you’ve connected the dots in your life for your future; it helped me rationalize being here in the United States and feeling more connected and grounded. Plus, you’ll end up meeting people from your home country so why not? 

  1. Explore local events! 

Cincinnati is notorious for many events throughout the year and I usually have been trying my best to keep up with all the fun around the city. I usually use ArtsWave and facebook as resources to see what events are going on around the city. Theres so much to keep up with but it is so much fun and very rewarding. It’ll make you fall in love with Cincinnati and feel entertained. 

I may not have solved all your problems and troubles, but I really think this is a healthy start to feel more at home in Cincinnati. If it helps in anyway, I, after almost two years of being here now, can confidently call Cincinnati and UC one of my homes. I see myself here, and I have found a place for myself in this very busy beautiful city, and you will too. 

Solo sketching session in Findlay Market

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