Becoming a Local – Caroline Becker

My experience with moving to a new place for a new job.

View of the Blue Ridge Mountains

Moving to Asheville wasn’t something I had ever thought about, nor had I ever even thought about working for the US Forest Service. I had only come across the position post by chance on a job board recommended to me by a friend, and I didn’t even apply for the position in Asheville, originally. I have always kept a very open mind with where I’d like to go in life and this was one of those times where my open-mindedness led me to an incredible opportunity. When I first applied, I wanted the position that was fully remote, figuring I could live at home and save money on rent. However, I found out that, statistically, I would have a better chance at getting the job if I was willing to move to Asheville. So, I agreed. Soon enough I received an offer for the GIS specialist position in the Asheville office for the US Forest Service.

As time got closer and closer to the day I was supposed to leave my home in Maryland, I became increasingly nervous. I would be moving hours away from family, friends, teammates, pets, and even farther from my family in New York. I was going to be physically distanced from my entire support system that I had built for myself over the years. It comforted me to know that they supported me and this move entirely, asking for lots of pictures and telling me how much I would love Asheville, despite having never been there before. When I finally got in the car to start the 8-hour drive to NC, I found it very hard to leave, especially when the family dog was sitting there waiting for me to pack her up into the car as well. However, I knew that this move was what I needed in my life to be able to get out of my comfort zone and keep growing, both as a person and professionally.

Me and another teammate docking after a “Parent/Child” double race.

My first week in Asheville I immediately threw myself into doing the things I loved. I found a rowing club and joined that week; I even ended up going to a regatta that weekend and raced with the team. Most of the team is older than I am, but that social interaction was invaluable for my first week, providing me with people I can turn to if I needed help, or even just for recommendations on the best places to visit in Asheville. I also got myself acquainted with the town by simply driving around the different areas, and then eventually parking and walking around the downtown area. There, I talked to shopkeepers and vendors from the artisan market who were more than willing to give me advice on the best places to eat and shop. All the while, I kept my eyes open for opportunities to sign up for activities where I might be able to make friends. One that I’m excited to try out is a jewelry-making class at Chevron Trading Post & Bead Co!

As I’m going on my fourth week of living in Asheville, I’m glad that I put myself out there so early. It made me anxious to go out and do things by myself because it felt so much safer to stay within the comforts of my apartment. But, I knew that if I didn’t just go and get out there, I would never be comfortable with being outside my comfort zone. As nervous as I was when I first arrived, I am slowly feeling like I know the area more and am gaining the courage to go out and talk to everyone. I am very excited to see how the next seven months here turns out!

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