After weeks and perhaps months of planning, your PCS has come and gone. Hopefully, the curtains are hung, and all the boxes are unpacked (or at least neatly stacked in the garage to be dealt with at a later time). You have settled and it’s time to check out your new city. It can be tempting to work yourself into oblivion getting your home set up, but taking a break to play tourist might provide just the inspiration and reprieve you didn’t know you needed. Consider the Three Fs of exploring: food, friends, and fun!
One of the best ways to get to know an area is through the local food scene. Sites like Tripadvisor and Yelp can be incredibly helpful. See what’s nearby, rated highest, and reviewed well. Oftentimes, reviews left on sites like these will even go as far as to recommend popular dishes to try.
Steer clear of chain restaurants and see what the local fare has to offer. Military towns are usually full of delicious regional and distinct cultural establishments. Whether you dine in or carryout, let your server or the restauranteur know you’ve just arrived in town and ask if they have any other local attractions they can recommend.
Be sure to think outside of the three-square meals too. Bars, coffee shops, and dessert or pastry restaurants are all part of a city’s dining scene as well. In addition to the food and drink they provide, these places may also serve as social gathering places for remote working, networking, or the place you may meet your next closest friend.
Speaking of friends, one way to get plugged in at your new assignment is to go where the people are! Are there intramural leagues you’d like to explore? The local library? A place of worship? Does your college have a local alumni association? Maybe you have a friend of a friend who lives in your new city that can help give you the lay of the land
It may sound simple or nostalgic, but don’t overlook the obvious: get out and introduce yourself to your new neighbors. Summertime is a great season to PCS because it means you’re likely spending time outdoors. Whether you’re washing your car, out on a powerwalk or jog, mowing the lawn, firing up the grill, or at the neighborhood pool–be neighborly and say hello. Don’t let the lost art of conversation hold you back. Your neighbors are likely a wonderful resource for knowing the inside scoop on the area as well as a wealth of information about things to do or see.
If fine (local) dining or meeting strangers isn’t your bag, then you won’t want to miss finding some FUN! Again, Yelp or Tripadvisor could be helpful in directing you to must-see attractions. Most military towns have unlimited options for recreation and entertainment. Your installation Morale, Welfare, and Recreation (MWR) is a great first place to start.
If you’re the outdoorsy type, check to see if there are any state parks or cool bodies of water nearby. Chances are there are parks, golfing, trails to hike, pools, or playgrounds within close proximity. Not feeling a sweat-sesh? Find the local arts scene, nightlife, movie theater, or indoor trampoline jump zone! Need some pampering or self-care? It’s always nice to know where you can go for a haircut, mani/pedi, or that wonderful deep tissue massage you are due from unpacking and organizing your house.
It’s easy to feel emotionally taxed after a PCS and all that it requires of you. Don’t take too long hunkering down and isolating at home. Getting out and getting acquainted with the food, friends, and fun all around you will definitely add to your overall enjoyment and investment at this duty station.