I’m so glad I had a chance to speak with Sadia Begum and share her story with you! Sadia’s experience will resonate with hundreds of newly weds who find themselves in a new city, without any friends or family. A moment that should be one of the most exciting times of your life, newlywed life can often leave you feeling lonely and isolated. Sadia Begum shares her story and how she navigated her way through the first year of her marriage in a new city.
Sadia Begum is a 29 year old Muslimah from New York.
Tell us something about yourself.
I’m originally from New York and got married a few years ago. I moved to North Carolina, where my husband was living at the time. He was working as a medical resident there.
Did you know anyone there before your move?
I didn’t know anyone!
How did you prepare for your move?
Honestly, I feel like initially going in, I wasn’t sure how to prepare. I think I was excited about living with my husband, having my own place, being able to decorate it, and make it our own. I had never lived away from home before and just hoped I’d eventually meet people and figure it out.
What was the experience like? Living away from home without your parents for the first time?
It was a mix of excitement, sadness, and fear of the unknown. Everything was really hectic at first, since we left the day after the wedding to drive to 7.5 hours to our new place with all of my stuff. We still had a Valima (reception) a week later, and our honeymoon two weeks later– so I don’t think anything hit me until we got back after the honeymoon. The first thing you feel is lonely– because you’re so far from your family and all of your friends. I’ve always lived at home and grown up in New York. I really wasn’t used to living in a different state and not being able to drive 15 minutes to see my friends whenever I wanted to. Although living away from home was tough, I was happy to be living with my husband and begin the next chapter of our lives. We would stay up putting together our Ikea furniture, get late night take out, explore the city together, and just spend time together. I’m a creature of habit, so it was easy to feel homesick because I was out of my routine all of a sudden.
How long did it take you to adjust?
It took a few months. My husband was on nights when we first moved, so I didn’t get to meet any of his co-residents until after he was done. THAT sucked– imagine moving to a brand new place, and your husband is like by the way I’m going to be on nights now. Moving into a new apartment and being alone at night was super creepy! Once I met everyone, I was so happy and finally felt in my element. I am a super social person so I was craving that social interaction. Once I got a job, then everything really fell into place.
What helped you adjust the most?
Making friends and finding a job helped me adjust the most. Once I established a routine and was working and hanging out with friends, I finally felt normal. It was nice to wake up and have a purpose, go to work, come home and see my husband and friends, it was great.
What did you learn about yourself that you could of only learned by moving to a new city?
I learned that as hard as it is moving to a new place, it does get easier. I learned that I am more adaptable than I thought– I initially was so down because I was like, “No! I don’t want to live here, I miss my family and friends.” It’s funny because before I left, all of my friends were like it’s okay, you’ll be fine, you’re so friendly, you’ll adapt so quickly, etc. I was like okay, if they all think I can do it– I should be able to do it, right?
What skills did you need to develop in order to help ease the transition?
I think I just needed to be more confident in myself; confident that I would be able to find a job and make friends. I have always been a very social and outgoing person, so I knew that eventually I would make friends, but you still end up worrying about it.
Getting married, moving in with a guy, and moving to a new city can be stressful….how did you cope?
I talked to my friends back home a lot and confided in my husband when I was feeling down. I could just text my friend and be like ” oh he left his socks by the couch today” or ” I applied for this job, but haven’t heard back yet” or “We found this cool new place to eat by the apartment!” Just normal everyday conversation with friends and family was definitely a help. Also, FaceTime! Thank God for technology, because FaceTime definitely helps, especially when you have a niece that you used to spend so much time with!
What resources did you find helpful for making new friends, getting involved in the community?
I will say that I was on the luckier side, since my husband already had a great network of friends when I moved! My experience is different than others, I’m sure.
You’ve recently moved again, was it easier this time around? Were you better prepared?
One great thing about this move, is that I am much closer to home, so it makes it easier to visit when I want to! To be honest, I feel like this time was a little tougher, because my husband and I moved here at the same time. With North Carolina, he was already there for a while, so had made friends and I was able to just come right in. He had already developments relationships with these people so it was much easier. I will say that I am fortunate this time around as well, as I had friends living here already that I got in touch with. I think the hardest part is we had such a great routine in North Carolina, made really great friends, so that makes it harder to move again. I still really miss all of my friends in North Carolina. I really miss my old job as well.
Advice for girls who a bit shy and find it difficult to network in new places?
Finding a job definitely helps when it comes to meeting new people, or even just joining any kind of class– whether it be yoga, or zumba, or just going to Jummah to your local masjid, you’re bound to meet people!
Any suggestions for other girls who have to move after marriage?
You will be sad– don’t try to brush it off and act like everything is okay– it’s totally okay to be sad about moving to a new place! It’s normal! Just be open to whatever comes to your way, try to explore your surroundings; find good places to eat, explore the city you’re living in! That’s one thing I did, and it makes it fun, because you are exploring this new city with your spouse.