Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Meeting People in Madtown

I moved to Madison, WI over a month ago now and have had some time to get settled in my new place. When I made the move, I knew nobody in the area. I do have a few relatives here, but had not really known them before the move. I was on my own. Last summer I had a similar experience when I lived in Kansas City, however that was a temporary situation for my internship.

Leaving college, where there is a network of friends in walking distance, and going to a place where my closest friends were at least 5 hours away was interesting. Luckily, I found a great Meetup group. I was looking for a young professionals group to join in Madison and came across www.meetup.com, which led me to the "20 something" group. It's relaxed and full of young professionals looking to meet people, may new to the area and recent grads like myself.

Every time I've met someone new in Madison, the inevitable question is "So what do you do?" It still feels weird to say that I have a full time job rather than "I go to UMC". Most people I talk to aren't quite sure what the company I work for does and "dairy equipment manufacturing" gets some confused, but intrigued, looks. The briefest explanation I have that I think is easily understandable is "milkers and milk storage tanks", though it includes much, much more. One of the people at a Meetup event seemed surprised that cows aren't milked by hand anymore and my profession sometimes sparks discussions about agriculture and the dairy industry.

There are so many interesting people in the group with a wide range if professions. Just as I enjoy talking about what I do and the dairy industry, I am enjoying learning about other industries from the other group members.

Moving to Madison alone didn't exactly scare me, but it was certainly a bit out of my comfort zone. It has been a rewarding experience though to go out and be comfortable in a brand new area.

Have you ever moved to an unfamiliar area alone? How did you meet people? How did you make it feel like home?