Sometimes it’s necessary to leave the farm and the small towns (yes, plural) you call home for the opportunities a city has to offer. That could be for college, or a job, or frankly, you just want to get as far away as you can for a while.
I’m in boat number two. I stuck around home for college (that wasn’t my intention, but the university near me offered everything I wanted and needed in higher education post-high school), so it probably made it that much worse when I had to move 160 miles away for my first job. And I’m still here more than three years later.
A lot of people ask me how I like living in St. Louis. To be completely honest, it’s not my ideal location, but I don’t have intentions of moving right now. In fact, I’ll probably sign another year-long lease next June.
How have I made a place that definitely isn’t home feel like a home? It’s a work-in-progress, but here are some tips for those with the same adventure ahead:
- I started with home decor. It was super-convenient that I began buying decor in the fall, when harvest- and farm-themed decor is literally everywhere.
- Figure out how to “farm” indoors. I started with plants. And then I expanded into hydroponic kitchen counter gardening. And then I bought more of those hydroponic gardens. And then I adopted some cactus plants from home. And then I started propagating random plants I had around. And then I discovered succulents.
- Get involved. I’ve been a frequent contributor on several ag-focused Twitter chats, which has helped me make connections within the ag community. I’m also staying involved with community service activities at home – you can run Facebook pages and websites from anywhere ?.
- Create your own communities. In case you haven’t heard, I’m a co-host of AgBookClub. This idea stemmed from a Twitter chat last winter, and a couple of us saw an opportunity to foster conversation and learning opportunities and ran with it. (Learn how to join at www.AgBookClub.com. Our first chat is Wednesday, September 6).
- Schedule trips to visit home. Especially during the “fun” seasons of planting and harvest and farm shows.
- Learn about yourself. What are your likes and dislikes now that you’ve had a taste of somewhere new? I’ve found new interests, like photography. But I also find it harder to blog since I’m so far away from the farm.
- Take advantage of what the city has to offer you that home can’t. I’ve found that I enjoy going to the farmers market (even though I’m not a huge fan of the Saturday crowds) and visiting food trucks for lunch. I can walk to the Arch. It’s super-easy to catch a Cardinals game since my office building is only a block away from Busch Stadium. Another bonus: in-state tuition for grad school. A large airport only 20 minutes away (direct flights are life-changing!). And the little conveniences that are easy to forget about, like food delivery.
- Identify the reason you’re here and remember that it’s worth it. For me, it’s for my job and the experiences and opportunities it offers me.
- Remember that nothing is permanent. You’ll know when it’s the right time to return to your roots. But until then, try to enjoy the experience because it’s an important chapter in your life. You’re exposed to different ways of thinking. You’re learning new skills and kick-starting your career in a job you won’t be able to find around home. You’re meeting new people. And you’re still working in the industry that will surround you for the rest of your life. You’re here for a reason.
I know that city life is not for me, but I also know that I’ll appreciate living near the farm again that much more. In the meantime, I’ll be planning my “vacation” home for harvest this fall.