Although Chicago is still in the same nation I grew up, it may as well be in a foreign country.
I’m moved enough times, that I know you gotta have a plan of action when it comes to meeting new friends, getting jobs – setting up shop. (I didn’t realize I actually had a plan of action until now. A month into my move and the plan that I’ve always incorporated is somehow starting to pan out. I can see the connections coming to life.)
My approach to Chicago is the same as how I approached living in Los Angeles, Bristol and New York – find connections however and wherever possible.
First, I narrow down my interests, my history, my friends and my relatives.
For example, I know that I love reading and socializing. As some of you know, I began a Book Club for Women when I lived in Bristol called “The Ladies Who…” Obviously, I wouldn’t have been able to do it with just me sitting there, so it was a success because of the people who were involved. Had I not known a few women in Bristol, I would have set up one with a Meetup.com club. For me, this killed two birds with one stone – one, we created a theme once a month for the fun, social part and two, we read a book to discuss. This fulfilled my love for reading.
There is a book club in Chicago that I’ve joined – our first meeting is at the end of the month. Very excited to meet new ladies!
I also love speaking French – so I join a French club. In Bristol, I was never able to get up and go to one. I joined one, but I never once attended. I think a part of me was scared that I wouldn’t be able to speak as well as I used to and I convinced myself that there was no point. I have now joined one in Chicago - here’s to me getting off my ass and doing what I’m saying I’m going to do. (Side note: working at a temp job right now, meeting is taking place with the European staff and I spoke French! I was even told my French was excellent. Get that? Excellent. Or, J’ai un bon accent! Merci bien, mais ca fais longtemps que j’ai pas parle. Il faut pratiquer!)
Next, I reach out to alumni groups. My mother reminded me of the Trojan Family that I belong to, and why I didn’t think to hit them up before, I have no idea. USC is a massive school with an amazing alumni group.
I have gone to one USC Football game so far in the Chicago area, and I met some of the nicest people. Sure, our rally cries each time the team scores a touchdown can be a bit, how do I say this? …Exuberant, at times, but it gets us all united (annoys the hell out of the rest of the bar), but makes us feel every bit the University of Spoiled Children that we are.
Lead guy stands up, revs up the alums with a hand dig/fist pump and a bellowing out of “OHHHHHHHHHH” starts us off. That’s our cue to spell out “S-O-U-T-H-E-R-N-C-A-L-I-F-O-R-N-I-A” in an upward escalating, fashion to a rhythm created by our drunken, sweater-wearing forefathers. Remembering how to spell “Southern California” is part of the testing that’s involved with initiation and acceptance into our fine university. Then, to make sure the rest of the bar knows what we’ve spelled, we scream as loud as we possibly can “SOUTHERN CAL-I-FORRRRRRNIA!”
In case you want to watch a live version, here we go:
God, I love College Football. God, I love USC alums.
Anyway, I’ve made some great connections through them, helping me to find jobs, volunteering at high schools to get more Slutty Chicks…erm, I mean, to get more ‘SC students.
Baltimore School for the Arts, my high school, has alumni here.
Through emails, facebook, blogging, linkedin and twitter, it’s amazing how many connections I’ve found out that I have here. Melissa, a girl who I went to school with during the 2nd Grade in Tennessee is now going to school out here. I missed her awesome Toga party this past weekend because of my sister’s baby shower, but I fully intend on getting together.
And the best part about living here is the amount of help that people want to give out. There has been an endless supply of suggestions, connections, recommendations, referrals. Which is why I haven’t really stopped working in over three weeks now. My dad randomly emails a headhunter on LinkedIn and she gets me a job with midVenturesLAUNCH (it lasted 10 days, but now I’m blogging for them 10 hours a week). Katie, the wife of one of Jock’s friends and now my friend, works for a promotional company on the weekends and now I am set up with them as well.
I have an interview for a restaurant through another connection. A guy I guest-blogged for when I was in England referred me to his company in Chicago. The list goes on.
Then, there’s friends of friends – Ariel who I met up with for a drink on Sunday at the Roof at the Wit.
Then, as for Jock – he just goes to the closest Irish or English pub and he finds people of his kind. Men have it so easy! I swear every English knows each other, and if you disagree, you haven’t met this Englishman named Jock.
Resources, interests and past history is the best source of connections, I’ve found. Technology has made moving so much easier as well. If we can just learn to use it to our benefits, it opens so many doors.
P.S. The Bloke Who Brunches will be back on the next post…