We have all found ourselves in an unfamiliar place at some point in our lives. Maybe you are a
Southern Illinois University Edwardsville student embarking on your first adventure away from
home. Your family and high school friends are farther away than you are used to, and you are
wondering what to do with your time outside of class.

Maybe your job has taken you to the Metro East, miles from where you grew up. Now you are
using Google Maps just to get to the grocery store, and it feels unsettling not knowing where you
are or how to get from point A to point B.

Or maybe you have been recently stationed at Scott Air Force Base. You have friends in your
squadron, but you still feel at a loss for a connection to our larger community.

Whatever the reason for your new surroundings, let’s face it– change is hard.

As people, we thrive on connection. Whether it be cooking dinner with our significant other,
attending a block party, visiting with family, or having a game night with friends, we all benefit
mentally, emotionally and physically from the camaraderie, acceptance and support of others. A
change in location can leave us feeling isolated and ungrounded. Take a deep breath, you are not

Within every community, especially our community, there are so many opportunities to connect.
It may not be the same as what you are familiar with, but change can be better than you ever
imagined if you give it a chance.

Let’s say you are a college freshman at SIUE who’s getting a feel for their new campus. There
are an abundance of clubs and organizations eager to accept new members. Finding people who
share the same interests is a great way to form meaningful friendships.

How about if you just accepted a job that puts you in the Metro East? Make sure to take
advantage of your built-in work relationships and invite a colleague to happy hour or spearhead
an office-wide team building experience.

If it’s a little too nerve wracking to make those first moves, you can also seek out the community
connecting experience of volunteering. In the greater St. Louis region, we have a wealth of
awesome and worthy charities who need your skills and talents to help bring about positive
change. Volunteering brings together people from all walks of life who share the desire to help.
Through this process you can also learn new things about yourself.

So, if you have found yourself new to our community and feeling the void of familiarity,
remember– the world is full of people seeking the companionship of others and to find purpose
through connection. Get out of your comfort zone and find the perfect match for you!


Written by Samantha Maddox

Samantha is a senior at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville studying

Social Work and completing her field practicum at Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southwestern Illinois. 

Related Stories