Country Mouse in the City: How to Survive Out of Your Element

As many of you know, this summer I moved from my comfortable nook in the Pacific Northwestern woods to the bustling city of San Francisco. I’ve been here for a little over three months and have since learned a few tricks to help country mice like myself survive in San Francisco.

  1. Crowds are good. In the country, crowds are seen as bad things. I enjoy my privacy so I always did my best to avoid crowded places. In the city however, crowds are safety zones in much the same way as they are in the Assassin’s Creed games. They act as a buffer between you and potentially dangerous or unwanted attention. Try to avoid places in the city that are deserted, especially at night.IMG_2266
  2. Get a Clipper Card right away (or whatever public transportation card equivalent is in your city). Trains and buses are a thing of beauty. Though they are smelly, can be expensive, and are crowded if you have to ride them in the morning and evening rush hours, they are an efficient way to get around the city. Having a Clipper Card is so much easier than trying to figure out train fares and buying singular tickets every time you go out.
  3. Save your bags. This might just be a Californian thing, but in San Francisco, grocery bags cost extra and they are always paper bags, never plastic. Save your bags and bring them with you when you go shopping.
  4. Find a place to escape to. Cities are loud and busy and it’s hard to get away. If you’ve grown up used to having space and silence, it might be necessary for you to find a quiet, peaceful place where you can be alone with your thoughts. The best place for this might be your apartment, or maybe you will find a park or coffee shop to escape to whenever you can. If you require time to recharge, find one. IMG_2278
  5. Starved for nature? Go to the park. Lack of nature has been one of the biggest struggles living in a city. I grew up surrounded by trees, fields, streams, and wildlife. I miss the greenery. If you find yourself feeling the same way, there are public parks with hiking trails in most cities. You have to be careful in parks (as being alone is less safe in the city than in the country), but they might provide a dose of much needed nature.
  6. Wash your hands and don’t touch your face, especially during flu season. The more people in a small area, the more sickness floating around.IMG_2321.JPG
  7. There are so many fun things to do in a city. Concerts, events, book shops, restaurants of every imaginable style, places of historical significance… the list is endless. Try to go out exploring regularly.
  8. Try to go home for holidays. I know, it’s expensive and inconvenient, but it is well worth it, if you can manage it. But make sure to plan ahead, as most companies only give you the holiday itself off. And if you work in retail, there’s a good chance you’ll be scheduled to work over the holidays. If you want to go home, make sure to request time off at least three weeks in advance, further just to be safe.IMG_2345
  9. And finally, the hardest one, try not to be Phoebe from the Magic School Bus. Don’t keep telling everyone how things were done “at your old school,” or how they’re done back where you’re from. I am a notorious offender regarding this. I love hearing about other ways of doing things, so I assume everyone else does, too. And maybe they do, sometimes, but try not to smother your new friends and coworkers with stories about it.

Cities are exiting, frightening, and completely foreign to those of us who grew up on farms, where it’s completely silent at night, and during the day too, except for maybe a lawn mower in the distance. I hope these tips help. If you have any you’d like to add, please add them in the comments below! I’ve only been in the city for three months. Is there any advice that longer residents have?



3 thoughts on “Country Mouse in the City: How to Survive Out of Your Element

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  1. Great post. I made the opposite move from a big city to a smaller city a few years ago. My advice is find a cosy cafe. Sometimes it’s nice to get out of your appartment for a while even when the weather is bad. Plus they can be a great place to meet other locals. Helps if your a coffee drinker too I suppose. Hope you like San Fran. I’ve heard great things.

    1. Thanks for the advice! I agree, cosy cafes are great. I spent a fair amount of time in coffee shops during college: writing, doing homework, or sometimes just hanging out. San Francisco is a great place. It’s probably my favorite American city.

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