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Get Lost

Florist on Google MapsSome of our ProfHacker readers started new jobs this semester, which probably meant moving to a new place. When I started the job I have now, one of the hardest and most exciting parts was moving to a part of the country where I had never been (except for my two-day site visit). In addition to negotiating all the demands of a new job, I had to find out where to buy my groceries, board my dog, take a walk, and do all of the other things that are a foundational part of my daily life. One of the best things I did to help me navigate my new home was to get lost.

As I was starting my new job, my husband was working on a graduate degree in another state. When he would visit, I would drive us around. The first weekend he visited, I told him I had found a movie theatre a couple of miles from home. He asked how. I said, “I got lost driving home from the DMV.” Afterward, I drove us to dinner at one of our favorite chain restaurants for a taste of the familiar. When he asked how I found it, I said, “I was driving home one day and took the exit south when I should have taken north. I found it when I took the next exit to turn around.” It was while lost I found the local library and a store where we eventually bought a new sofa.

Oh, yes, you should always be careful driving around new areas. It is easy to get so lost that you truly cannot find your way out (it did take me a while one afternoon to find my way around northwest Connecticut with its back roads, thick forests, and meandering rivers). It is probably a good idea to have a map or GPS with you. It is also a good idea, though, to take a new way home from campus to see what you find on the way. If Google maps point you one quick way, what might you find if you drive the long way? When I discussed this entry with one of my colleagues, she told me about how she spent the first week here driving to and from campus in a completely new way, keeping a map in the glove compartment but being on the lookout for new stores, cool landmarks, and alternate routes for when the major roads were closed.

Even if you have lived in your town for years, a new route somewhere might reveal something special. Or it might just provide a break in your day. It is beyond easy to end up on auto-pilot as we drive between work and home. Shake yourself up on tomorrow’s drive, and let us know in the comments what you find.

[Creative Commons licensed photo by Flickruser Lars Plougmann]

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