by Jamie Gallup, City Year AmeriCorps Member on the Hallsville Elementary School Team
“I’m never going to find a place to live!” I exclaimed to my Dad after touring countless apartments I could not afford in anticipation of my move to Manchester, NH to serve with City Year New Hampshire. This was when we first made the 17 hour drive from Michigan to New Hampshire in June. Roughly 20 minutes later, I met my future roommate outside an apartment we now call home. My melodramatic statement was not needed as apartment hunting is tough, however, things usually do fall into place. The rest of this initial trip was full of exploring the city of Manchester and the White Mountains of New Hampshire. This quick venture to the Granite State caused me great anticipation for my full move and the start of service in the beginning of August.
When August rolled around, I made the journey out East again with my parents. In true Midwest fashion, we hauled a U-Haul cross country with my most prized possessions (in reality my bed). The first week in Manchester I met the rest of the City Year New Hampshire corps at Registration Day. I was nervous but extremely excited! Quickly, we progressed into the dreaded routine of ice breakers. However, these ice breakers were intriguing and actually fun (which is something I had never thought before). Plus, I was meeting people from all over the country, and everyone was so full of energy that the day went by quickly, and it left me counting down the days until our official start date.
The next week, our service officially began and the week flew by. Then the weekend rolled around, and it was truthfully a little rough. I did not know anyone in this state. Though I never felt truly alone as other corps members communicated what they were up to and invited all of us. When I finally made plans to join in, I got to hangout with the corps members outside of work and really get to know them while exploring my new surroundings.
Here's my advice for starting a City Year:
Attend every event you can with your fellow corps members. The first few weekends were a little rough for me because I did not do this. I stayed cooped up in my apartment rather than going out and mingling with my fellow corps members. Finally, I did join in on the events posted in the Facebook group and it was awesome!
Take time to set up your apartment and room the first few weekends. My bedroom is my own personal sanctuary where I can truly recuperate after a busy day of service. I also advise a deep clean of your new home during one of your first weekends as cleaning will not be a major priority when you become busier with your service.
Explore your new neighborhood. Doing it gave me insight as to what my students see and experience on a daily basis. You will likely be living in a similar neighborhood as most of your students.
The first few weeks are truly what you make of them. Go out and meet the people you will be serving with for the next 10 months, and make an effort to get to know everyone! These are people you probably would not have had the opportunity to meet if it was not for your service year so truly embrace that. Remember to have fun in your new city and start your service year with an open mind and an open heart.