New School & New City: Get To Know The Perfect Imperfections
It’s a reality. You’ve unpacked your bags, lined your shelves with your books for the semester, and are ready to press the play button. There’s just one thing you need to do: get to know the wonderful place you now call home!
High school graduation day has come and gone – and so much has changed since then as well. You’ve left home and you’re in a new city. You’ve left high school, and you’re studying at a university abroad. Everything just seems like a dream and you keeping pinching yourself to make sure it’s all real.
There’s just one thing that isn’t sitting quite right... it feels like a vacation. Somehow you just can’t shake that tourist feeling. You’ve probably spent a lot of your time settling in and making sure your place feels like home, and maybe you’ve been so busy that you haven’t even had time for anything else.
Getting organized and settled in a new place takes time, but settling into a new school and a new city is fun and exciting. Here’s what you should be doing to shake that tourist feeling and feel more like a local student.
Listen to the Expert: Book the tour
If you haven’t checked out your school’s virtual online tour before, then now would be the perfect time to do so. It’s quick, it’s easy, and it will help you avoid trying to figure out how to get to class on your first day.
If your school doesn’t offer this kind of tour on its website, then grab your phone and call the school’s International Affairs Office to ask if anyone would be around to give you a tour of the grounds before you start.
Our tip: Try and connect with older students who have some experience studying at your school.
Skip the Motors, Use Your Legs
It is very tempting to use public transportation, but you’ll be missing out on so much by riding the underground, hopping on a bus or taking a cab.
The best way to explore any city or campus is to get lost as you walk around. Switch that smartphone on silent or “do not disturb” mode and let your legs lead you. You’ll be amazed at just how much life and action you miss when you are rushing from place to place or sitting in a vehicle. While you’re walking around, you can even pop into stores or discover your new favorite coffee shop.
Our tip: Skip the music as well, you’ll find the city buzz a lot more interesting.
Say it: "I'm new here."
Whether you’ve stepped out for a bite or you’re trying to find your classroom, don’t be afraid to say the words “I’m new.”
Everyone feels the need to just know things, but the truth is: you don’t just know things. You learn by asking and listening. Wherever you go, there will always be at least one person who can help you get to where you need to go – just ask.
Our tip: Remember that one day someone might be asking you the same question.
Use Tools Like Social Media
There’s Twitter. There’s Facebook. There’s Instagram and more. These tools are great for connecting people, and they are also perfect for connecting people to places. So, spend some time scrolling through a few Twitter feeds, Facebook profiles or Instagram pages to get to know your new place.
You might end up with a massive list of sites or restaurants you’d like to visit, which is great because it means that you’ve got something to look forward to exploring.
You might connect with a couple of people as well, which is wonderful because meeting new people and getting to learn about them is a journey in itself.
Our tip: If you’re checking out places, then read reviews as well – it’ll help you bring that list down to something manageable.
Be Adventurous and Say YES
You’ll meet plenty of people while you’re at college and you’ll receive plenty of invites. Don’t be shy… say yes and try something new.
Maybe your roommate has asked you to see a play together. Maybe your professor has organized a study session. Perhaps someone you know is heading to a museum. Or maybe you’re the one asking someone from your dorm to explore the city streets with you. It’s all an adventure, and you’ll miss out if you say no all the time.
Our tip: Remember to stay on track and prioritized. That means you should only say yes if you have the time to spare.
Save the Names
How many conversations have you had where someone has recommended a meal, a restaurant or a website?
Plenty, we’re sure. How many of those names did you actually remember and how many of those things did you actually try?
We’ll take a guess, not very many. It’s normal to have a conversation and forget half the names that were mentioned throughout the conversation. Pull out your phone and take notes, that way you won’t forget to check out the place, try the study tool or order that meal. But make sure you let your conversation partner know you’re just taking notes so they don’t think you’re texting someone else (that would be rude).
Our Tip: Have separate lists on your phone – organization is key!
Sometimes studying abroad can get a little busy. You can hit the pause button. You don’t always have to be out exploring and mingling with people. You can spend time alone thinking of your next big adventure, studying or just relaxing. Welcome to the new city you now call home!