New Beginnings 4 Black Women on Moving Cross-Country and Starting New Lives During the Pandemic The Winter Issue ft. Halsey
4 Women Get Real About What It's Like to Move During A Pandemic

4 Black Women on Moving Cross-Country and Starting New Lives During the Pandemic

The most trying moments and illuminating lessons.

With the one-year mark looming of when the COVID-19 virus first reached America, many of us have started to reflect on how deeply our lives have changed. No one has escaped unscathed from the ever-present weight of living through a pandemic, a fact that rings especially true in Black communities who have been disproportionately affected by the virus. But amidst the tribulations of this period, this time has also ushered in a new era of change for some by way of relocating. The decision to settle into new surroundings may have been spurred by the promise of better opportunities or the simple yearning for a fresh start; some moved out of state, while others made international leaps. 

But, what does starting a whole new life during a pandemic actually entail? With remote work as the new normal, social distancing preventing us from connecting in-person, and stay-at-home orders still in effect—it’s safe to say life feels anything but typical. Wanting to shed light on what their experiences have been like, we asked four Black women to discuss the realities of moving cross-country during this time. Their reflections paint a vivid picture of the emotional, mental, and physical impact of transitioning amidst a global crisis. Read their honest thoughts ahead. 

4 Women Get Real About What It's Like to Move During A Pandemic

Design by Cristina Cianci


What prompted your decision to move during the pandemic?

"It was not my original plan to move during a pandemic. I interviewed for a great job overseas in November 2019. After receiving my official offer in January, I planned to be in Germany by the time my lease was up at the end of February 2020. The hiring process was delayed, and by March, there were travel restrictions, so my move was put on pause. Towards the end of June, the COVID-19 numbers were trending down. My company offered a move date for early August. I was hesitant but figured the numbers might rise again during the October to November timeframe, so I decided to take the date and go. I figured it would be better to move than be stuck in limbo."

Describe how moving made you feel emotionally, mentally, and physically. 

"When I first moved to Germany, it was great—the restaurants and shops were still open, the weather was beautiful, I was able to see some of the local sites on the weekends. I was even able to travel to Italy for a week with work. There were mask mandates and social-distancing procedures, but I was still able to see people and have a greater level of mobility. 

"Towards the end of November, tighter restrictions were put in place, including restricting travel in and out of the country. I couldn’t see my co-workers every day, as we were allowed only one person in the office at a time. It became very isolating, I had the strongest homesickness I have ever felt, and I experienced the longest stretch of depression. 

"I felt (and still feel) incredibly unmotivated, exhausted, and drained. I used TV as a way to mentally check out of the world. I would also force myself to go outside for exercise, and somedays I made myself eat when food did not seem appealing. This has been the worst state of my mental health in several years."

What wellness and self-care practices have helped you cope?

"Walking outside in nature, cooking for myself, setting a morning ritual (like sitting in silence while drinking coffee), also [repeating] a grounding mantra when I’m feeling disconnected has helped me snap out of negative thought spirals. Mentally and physically, tracking the amount of sleep and food I eat for the day has been invaluable. My worst days have been when I did not get enough sleep and forgot to eat throughout the day. 

"Thankfully, I was able to keep seeing my previous therapist, and having that resource has helped ease the transition. I also make sure to set up regular weekly calls with my family and friends. It’s something I look forward to on the weekends when there seems to be too much time to fill."

What has this experience taught you?

"Moving during this time has taught me how valuable it is to have a supportive community. My personal community is spread all over the U.S., but the ability to reach out to them through video, phone calls, and social media has given me more energy than I realized. 

"I have also learned how resilient I can be. This has been an incredibly challenging experience, but now, five months into my move, I still believe things will get better, and I will have opportunities to go out and explore in the future. This new chapter of my life has been a decade-long dream of mine. Living and working overseas was a goal I thought I could not obtain until I was much further along in my career. I am so grateful for thing experience, even during a pandemic."

What’s been the best advice you’ve received during this time?

"The best advice has been: 'Allow yourself to rest.' I received this message from a couple of friends and my therapist. I often push myself and believe I need to work harder when I’m stressed. The reality is, there is so much happening with the pandemic, politics, and social and environmental movements, so taking time to process everything and rest has been necessary for me to recharge and keep myself motivated for the future."

4 Women Get Real About What It's Like to Move During A Pandemic

Design by Cristina Cianci

What prompted your decision to move during the pandemic?

"I had already planned to move in 2019, and then the pandemic happened. I considered waiting to move until the pandemic was over, but I knew I had to make the move for my career. I was on the fence for a long time, but so many situations aligned in my life that I knew it was a sign I had to take the leap."

Describe how moving made you feel emotionally, mentally, and physically. 

"I moved to L.A., but it's not a completely new city. I spent nine months here for graduate school some years ago. Now it's different because I am a career woman, and I don't have all the limitations I did when I was here for school. I get to see Los Angeles in a different light, but of course, a lot of that won't happen until the pandemic is over. However, since moving here, I feel free. I don't know how else to describe it, but I felt more relaxed and calm when the process was all done—even though I had so many things to worry about."

What wellness and self-care practices have helped you cope?

"I really love television and movies, so getting lost in a good show or movie has helped me a lot during this time. I also did a lot of self-reflection and let go of things that had been weighing me down. The last thing I've learned to do is say 'no' to the situations and people that no longer serve me. That has helped me tremendously."

What has this experience taught you?

"Moving during the pandemic confirmed nothing can stop me once I am determined to do something. I also learned I can't let my fear of change keep me from achieving what I want in life. This new chapter has given me a lot more confidence in my own abilities and resilience to keep striving for my goals, even when I hit major roadblocks."

What’s been the best advice you’ve received during this time?

"Take risks while you can."

4 Women Get Real About What It's Like to Move During A Pandemic

Design by Cristina Cianci

What prompted your decision to move during the pandemic?

"I was working in sales during the early days of the pandemic but looking to change careers. While applying to graduate programs from my apartment in Austin, I was recruited by a business school in Boston. It seemed like a wonderful opportunity for a fresh start, and I took it!"

Describe how moving made you feel emotionally, mentally, and physically. 

"It has been an equally challenging and exciting experience for me. I have lived in the South for most of my time in the U.S., so it has been nice exploring a different region of the country, even in limited ways. There have been some low moments, like having my shipped belongings damaged in transit, and some great ones too, like discovering a cheap weekend market in Boston where I now buy my groceries.

"Emotionally and mentally, it's rather difficult to be far away (geographically) from friends and family, but FaceTime helps a lot. Physically, it has been great for me because Boston has a cool bike-share system and bike-friendly roads. Since I attend classes in person, I got a membership, and it feels really great to bike almost anywhere."

What wellness and self-care practices have helped you cope?

"I was hoping to take up pole-dancing during this time, but given the pandemic, I have recently taken up yoga and meditation. Most mornings, I follow along to videos on YouTube from a Black yoga instructor a friend recommended to me! I have also been drinking a lot more tea (thanks to Boston weather) and writing quite a bit."

What has this experience taught you?

"I consider myself quite bold, but I am not always much of a risk-taker when it comes to trying new things. This move taught me I can take risks and that I am even more resilient than I thought. This new chapter of my life is quite trying, but I am learning and growing in so many different ways. The one reassuring thing is that the best is yet to come."

What’s been the best advice you’ve received during this time?

A dear friend told me to get a therapist, which was great advice. And Lupita Nyong'o said in her tribute to Chadwick Boseman, 'Take your time, but don't waste your time.'"

4 Women Get Real About What It's Like to Move During A Pandemic

Design by Cristina Cianci

What prompted your decision to move during the pandemic? 

"I have dreams that I want to accomplish. I had just graduated in December from North Carolina A&T State University and planned to move at the beginning of 2021." 

Describe how moving made you feel emotionally, mentally, and physically. 

"This is honestly one of the hardest and most challenging things I've done in my life so far. Not only did I move during a pandemic, but I moved to a county that is shut down because of COVID-19. Emotionally and mentally, I feel alone because I miss my friends and my family, and physically I've started to lose weight and have trouble sleeping through the night. But, I know that I'm good because I have god on my side, and my faith is a big reason I decided to move out here so quickly."

What wellness and self-care practices have helped you cope?

"My Nana got me a journal and put some scriptures in it, so I write in that every night. I also pray and listen to gospel music daily. Lastly, I just talk to god and relax. Musicals also play a part in my coping mechanisms."

What has this experience taught you?

"This has taught me that I really have people who care about me, and I've learned to keep cool and trust god more than ever. This new chapter is all about digging deeper into who I am and pursuing my career full force. It's time for me to focus more on bettering myself."

What’s been the best advice you’ve received during this time?

"The best advice I've received is to trust god, stay grounded, and not let my fear be bigger than my faith."

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