Relationship with the city: it’s complicated

Are you in love with the city you are living in? Or is it more of a love-hate relationships? Did you choose to live in this particular city or did you simply end up living there because of a job opportunity, family ties, or education prospects?

I came to the city I am living in now because I received an attractive scholarship offer from the university. I briefly googled the images of the city and boarded the plane without much thought.

I did notice the city was less busy than what I was used to, living in the metropolitan centre in Asia for the last 3 years. However, I did not automatically take it as a bad thing – I was thrilled to get acquainted with the new habitat and make it my home. The university area was spectacular – so much green, so many cute student houses. Everyone was smiling, welcoming. The first “punch” in the face I got was when I attended the residence block party. I met students who just arrived like me and those who had been there for a year or more. When I asked them about the impressions of living here, their answers shocked me. “You came to a dead place.” “It is the worst city to live in.” “There is literary nothing to do.” “I miss my hometown.” “When I am done with studies, I am out of here.” “Good luck with having fun here.”

It affected and haunted me for several years. “Plain, boring, simple, unexciting, bland” – these adjectives stayed in my mind. For many years I believed in them. I labeled the city the way others viewed it and lived with this “comfortable” image in my head and in my heart. I was so persuaded not to like it that for many years I refused to even attempt at exploring various parts of the city and enjoying what it could offer. I developed a small and boring city complex.

This year has become a transformational period for me in my ways. I have started to reinvent myself, my relationships with people, habits, my ideas and values because the older ones stopped working for me. And this month I have also decided to reinvent my relationships with the city – to scratch everything and start over. Give it another chance, as you will. Or maybe it is me who should be given another chance with this city.

Even though it is Covid and most things are closed nowadays, I still want to devote this summer to looking at my city through new eyes. What does it breathe with? How is it evolving? What did I miss?

It is time to revisit the relationships with my city. After all, who says love should be at first sight?

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