Adjusting to New Environments

Picture: Maria Tyutina on

Picture: Maria Tyutina on

College is the beginning of the rest of your life, in my opinion. From the point you enter college to the point you go for your first internship, followed by your career and all the jobs you will experience through your life, one of the most important skills you can have is this: knowing how to adjust to new environments.

Not only does this apply to your academic and professional lives, this also applies to your personal life as well. We as human beings do not enjoy moving to new environments where everything is unfamiliar, especially when we move to a new place away from the home we’ve lived in our whole lives!

These changes can be very challenging so some people might feel a bit nervous about it, and some may even feel outright terrified!

But this is no reason to be ashamed; all of this is completely normal. Adjusting to a new environment of any kind is tough for anyone, but the transition becomes a lot more manageable once you understand how to adjust to it quicker.

Did you know that the temptation to quit or go back is usually the strongest in the first two weeks of being in a new environment? What this means is that no matter how uncomfortable it may be at first, with a little bit of time and patience this new environment of yours will start to feel like home.

Let me share with you some tips to make this transition a little bit easier on yourself.

1. Take a look around

In any new college, new office, or even when moving into a new apartment, we sometimes get a little too concerned about what might happen in the near future or how we’ll face challenges that come our way. The first thing that people will tell you about starting a new job (which applies to many other areas in life, by the way) is that you should just stop and watch those around you.


Take your time, observe the behaviours of those around you, and let yourself slowly take in this new environment that you are now a part of. Once you start to understand how other people behave in this new place and learn its ‘traditions’, you’ll be able to fit in a lot easier.


 2. Know the place in and out

Adjusting to new environments isn’t just a mental process, but also about adjusting physically. Part of why you’re still feeling like a nervous ‘outsider’ is because you’re not yet familiar with the physical space of the new environment you’re a part of.


The quickest way to change that? Take a walk around the place, even to places you might not necessarily go everyday. Give yourself a tour of the buildings, take note of the important facilities that will be useful for you to know later. This includes the toilets, the surau, the library, the laundry facilities, and if you’re like me, you definitely want to know identify where you’ll be getting your coffee every day!


By doing this, you are essentially creating a map of the entire location inside your own head, complete with places of interest you’ve highlighted for yourself. You’ll never have to worry about being late or getting lost ever again, since you already know where all the rooms are.


This will provide you with added confidence, allowing you to walk through the entire place with ease as if you’ve been there for years!


 3. Make the first move

Being familiar with the physical space is only the first step. Next, you should start becoming familiar with the people who are always there.


You know who are the best and easiest people to make friends with in a new environment? The support staff. By this I mean the cleaning lady, the security guards, the receptionists. Not only are these people usually the friendliest, they are also often the most knowledgeable!


They’ll probably be able to share with you little secrets about the place, and maybe even tell you where the closest and best places to eat are located!


4. Be patient with yourself

Most important of all in any sort of transitionary period in life, you have to be patient with yourself. When you’re feeling like an outsider, awkward and unsure of yourself, just remember that everyone who ever came before you felt the same way before. You might not always see it, because some people are better at hiding those emotions than others, but that doesn’t mean that they haven’t felt the same way that you do.


While the temptation to quit or leave this new place might be at an all-time high, give it some time. It might be scary now, but in the near future this new place will probably be where you’ll create some of the best memories of your life!