Welcome back, everyone! We hope that you had a lovely weekend and, if you’re in the Midwest like our team is, were able to stay warm and cozy indoors. Almost halfway into January (time in 2023 is already FLYING!), we figured that it is within these few weeks that many of our student followers are arriving at their semester abroad location. Whether that’s the case for you, if you’re traveling abroad for work, or otherwise spending extended time in a foreign country, keep ready below. We’ll walk through what to do when you land, how to optimize your experience, and how to immerse in a new culture!
Let’s… Land Abroad!
Get Your Physical Bearings In-Tact
First and foremost, in order to optimize your safety and experience in any new place, it’s crucial to actually get your bearings. That’s right, pull out a physical or digital map and start with your new living situation – are you in an apartment? A home? A hosted-stay? A dorm room? Whatever that looks like, make sure to identify the neighborhood you’re residing in, your nearest public transportation route and pickup, and proximity to the airport. All of these resources will help you to plan out your schedule, commute to work or school, and ability to navigate the city. We recommend you set aside at least 1 full day to do so without any imminent responsibilities or to-dos. This way, you’ll be able to get your bearings at ease and without trying to meet a deadline. Make sure that when you’re exploring it’s light out, you’re with people you trust, and you can get back to your home if need be (charge your phone and identify transportation resources like Uber or Taxis)!
Embrace the Culture and People!
Next up… embrace your surroundings! This means the culture, the atmosphere, the people, the language, the food, the drinks, the clothing, and more. Remember, you are in a new place, meaning that it’s up to you to figure out how to best thrive in a new community. Learning the native language (at least enough to get around and request basic needs), dressing appropriately, embracing the cuisine, and otherwise showcasing your desire to learn a new way is your key to success. You will be amazed at how willing strangers are to help you when approached the right way! Make sure to say hello on the street, chat when you walk into a store, ask your professors or teachers for pointers, and learn about a new way of life along the way. Make sure that you always remember…asking for help is crucial!! No one expects a foreigner to understand the ins and outs of their city, but asking for input and expressing gratitude for assistance is the best way to obtain the help you need.
Adventure ‘Off the Beaten Path’
We all know that nowadays, no matter where you’re headed around or nowhere near your home… social media is at your fingertips. It’s easier than ever to ‘vet’ out certain restaurants, bars, or general locations by plugging them into any social media outlet and viewing them through your screen. However, while it’s easy to dive into the most touristic attractions, we encourage you to also embrace the unknown and local sweet spots that might be hidden at first glance. By building friendships with locals, learning the language, and asking the right questions, you’re set to identify the most hidden and coveted spots in any environment. Not only are these often the most special and delicious spots at any sight, but they’re a great way to truly dive into a culture to its fullest.
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