The Emotional Transition of Moving to NYC: An Aussie’s Perspective

Cynthia Tan attended the Emotional Transition of Moving to NYC workshop facilitated by Susie Lang on Oct 4, 2019. In this event review, Cynthia puts into words the emotional challenges of moving to New York and why she left this workshop feeling optimistic about what lies ahead.

“I’m moving to New York.”

“OMG, how bloody exciting, New York! The city that never sleeps. The Big Apple. I have to come visit you…” 

I am sure that many of us have had this conversation with family, friends, acquaintances, and anyone who finds out we’re moving to New York. Us Aussies love an adventure and travelling, and there is nothing more exciting than moving to New York. But what we don’t really consider is the emotional impact of that big move. 

When I first saw Australian Women in New York’s “The Emotional Transition of Moving to New York” event advertised, I thought that it could be a great way to meet other Aussie women and an event that “won’t hurt to attend” because even if I don’t find the talk useful, at least I may meet people.

Attendees at The Emotional Transition of Moving to NYC event on Oct 4, 2019. Image courtesy of Cynthia Tan.

I’ve relocated 3 times in the past 6 years: to Malaysia, England and now New York. You’d think with each move it would get easier from experience but unfortunately that’s further from the truth. Here in New York, you have to learn the imperial system measurement, be confused that an 80 degree day is a nice day (when really what they mean is 27 degrees Celsius) and drive on the wrong side of the road!

Coming to the U.S. means you may have to get your degree converted, sit extra licensing exams, do further studies just so you meet the standards they require of you. Your identity in Australia may not be something you get to carry here. An Aussie lawyer has to sit the New York Bar to practice here, a doctor is required to sit 4 licensing exams before applying for a job, a massage therapist has to ensure her practice and license fits the US masseuse standards and the list goes on. At the talk, Susie covered all of this in “self shock” and figuring out your identity in the midst of moving to New York. 

You’d think it would be easy to make friends by moving to a city of 8 million people. That like movies and TV shows based in New York, you’ll meet someone strolling through Central Park or picking up a bagel from your local deli. But it’s tough to meet people in a city that runs at 100 miles an hour and truth be told, I miss my friends at home terribly. I wish I could just get in my car and drive to visit them, I wish that I wasn’t missing out on their birthdays, their engagement, weddings and that I could physically be there through all the ups and downs. All of us that move go through an “ambiguous loss”, a loss we can’t quantify in arbitrary, a loss that can be difficult to explain to those not going through it. At the event, Susie explained the difference between definitive and ambiguous loss and ways to tackle and approach that. 

I left this event feeling connected to Aussie women, not just socially but at a deeper level. I felt that we all understood each other, despite differing circumstances. Susie was fun, empathic and really allowed us to open and share raw emotions with one another.

Cynthia Tan, workshop attendee

We were hosted in the welcoming and beautiful apartment of Deb, one of the AWNY committee members, who she treated us to the most delicious nibbles from Coles Anzac cookies to muffins from a local bakery in the Upper East Side, whilst we laughed and cried together. Although the duration we’ve lived in New York ranged within the group from 5 weeks to 15 years, everyone just “gets it”.  

I went to this workshop thinking, “it would be a good talk to attend”, and left thinking, “I am glad I’m not the only one, and it will all be OK.”

I highly recommend this event to anyone finding the move to New York difficult, anyone who’s been here for a while but never got a chance to understand what that knot they felt was and really just anyone who has moved to this amazing city.  

If you can relate to Cynthia’s story, then come along to the evening session of this workshop:

The Emotional Transition of Moving to NYC

Date: Tuesday, October 22
Time: 6.30 – 8.30 pm, please arrive by 6.15 pm to check in
Where: Manhattan, specific location TBD
Cost: $15 Members, $20 Non-Members. Wine, cheese and fruit included.
RSVP: Tickets can be purchased via the American Australian Association

Purchase your ticket: Evening Session, Tues Oct 22

For questions about this event, contact us via

About the author: Cynthia Tan, a medical doctor, hails from Perth. She met her husband whilst traveling through Europe and after a four-year long distance relationship, she moved to New York six weeks ago.

Author: Australian Women in New York

Australian Women in New York (AWNY) sources stories and guides that will help make you win the Big Apple. We also love to profile fabulous Aussie and Kiwi women.

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