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How to foster topophilia: Learning to love the place where you live

Image: Unsplash
Image: Unsplash

The Oxford Dictionary defines ‘topophilia’ as “a feeling of affection which individuals have for particular places; 'the term topophilia couples sentiment with place'.”

‘New year, new city, new job’ is the mantra those looking for a fresh start put out into the universe. But, when it all finally comes into fruition, the reality can be more overwhelming than expected.

Suddenly you find yourself living in an entirely new city, in a strange neighbourhood, surrounded by unfamiliar faces, feeling untethered to the place you should now be calling home. Of course, it takes more than a having a new area code to create attachments.

From visiting museums to becoming a ‘regular’ at your new favourite hangout, these are the best ways to learn to love where you live.

Visit museums

Culture, history and art are all jam-packed into one place at museums. They are the ultimate place of learning for any person trying to better immerse themselves into a new environment. After all, education is a key component of getting a true sense of where you live – it could also explain some of the little eccentricities you notice from day to day depending on where you live.

Read community papers

The community paper can serve as your guide to all the goings-on in your new hood. Whether it’s in the form of a school play, a local beach clean-up or the opening of a new restaurant on your road, it’s good to keep in touch with what is happening in your surroundings. While nowhere can ever compare to the place where you grew up, the light-hearted and positive content can help build a more attractive image of your new area in your mind.

Go on tours

Rickshaw bus tours, walking tours, sedgeway and more, every city has its own touristy attractions that are popular among visitors during peak holiday seasons. However, most of the time they operate throughout the year and can serve as the perfect way for locals to learn more about where they live. The tour guides often have fascinating titbits to make your journey more colourful as you venture from one site to the next. From this experience, you’ll likely learn that even the most mundane buildings, parks and statues have the most fascinating back-stories.

Adventure by foot

There’s a lot you can miss about an area when travelling by car. From brick-faced buildings covered in street art to the planters brimming with flowers on the windowsills of ground floor apartments, there's beauty to be found in all the little nooks and crannies of your neighbourhood. Walking, cycling or even skateboarding as a means of getting around offers the opportunity to engage more with your surroundings and take time to appreciate where you are. Simply smelling the fresh air, hearing kids playing in the local park or smelling the coffee brewing at a local café can open up your senses, form new attachments and make memories.

Join in on events

Park runs, beach or park clean-ups and plays, there are so many wonderful community events to get involved in when you move somewhere for the first time. Make an effort to show up to some of these and you’ll be amazed by how integrated you feel into the community. Not only will you get to know many of the people who live among you, but you’ll likely form new friendships, ultimately making your new town into your home.

Become a regular

Love coffee? Visit your favourite café once or twice every week. Have a dog? Walk them at your local dog park or around the neighbourhood. Don’t have a washer and dryer? Visit a nearby laundromat. The basic idea is to be seen around one spot multiple times by other people who also frequent those places regularly. From fellow dog walkers to waiters, you’ll find yourself striking up conversations pretty quickly once you start being seen as a familiar face.

This article was originally published on IOL.

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