Experiencing a host city for the first time

Moving to a new city can be a life-changing experience. In some cases, it could be compared with how brown bears must feel at the beach or colorful amazonic parrots in the Sahara Desert. We humans face enormous challenges when finding ourselves living in a different city than the one we were born or settled for a long time. Tips and advice for all brave individuals experiencing it can be as multi-faceted as the reasons why people move to a different city. Let’s construct two hypotheses that influence the experience of moving to a new city:

  • Firstly, moving to a new city is better when it is the consequence of a voluntary decision for a change in personal life or as a family decision. In comparison, moving to another city as a last resource due to an insecure or non-viable situation that pushes people to abandon their home cities and frequently their countries, entails a completely different set of “arrival experiences”.
  • Secondly, the experience is presumably better when there is a clear plan on how one will spend his/her time productively, studying or working for example, than when there is not certain plan on how life will look like in the new place.

Many scholars and policy-makers have conceptualized groups of cities such as “destination cities” or “host cities”, “arrival cities”, “refugee cities” or “sanctuary cities” due to the large migration they received or are receiving presently. But in general terms, any city can be a destination or a welcoming city. The way its administrations, businesses and residents act as hosts can make the way a new-comer experiences a city for the first time either a nightmare or an enriching and inspiring experience.

Are you and longtime resident of your city? Do you consider yourself a local or a fully adapted and integrated long-term migrant? Or do you perceive yourself, on the other hand, as temporary or permanent “guest” in a new city? Regardless of your answer, you might possibly be interested in the following  examples which we use to reflect on the framework in host cities and to understand the challenges newcomers likely face in any city.