8 things to do when you first arrive abroad

1) Buy a metro card

Knowing how to use public transportation is key to success in a new city. The sooner you get to the metro or bus station and buy a metro pass or tickets, the faster you’ll get be able to navigate your new city. Take a photo of the bus and metro system to study while you’re at it.




2) Find your closest super market

Instead of eating out your entire first week, it’s a good idea to find a close, local supermarket as soon as you can after arriving abroad. There you can also purchase any items you may have accidently left behind at home.


3) Take a walk around your neighborhood

Walking is the best way to get to know a city – and where better to start than your new neighborhood? When you arrive in your new city you’ll likely be overwhelmed with new sites and sounds. Taking a thorough walk around the area you’ll be living will help you get a better sense of where you are.


4) Study a map of the city

Even though it will take a while to get a handle on how your city is organized, taking a good look at a city map is an ideal place to start. Have an idea of where the center of the city is and what places define the north, south, east and west parts of the metro area.




5) Get lost (and found)

As long as you know you’re in a safe area and have some hours to kill, a great way to get yourself on your feet in a new city is to get good and lost. Follow your instincts, have an idea of where you want to end up, and go. Relying on a map and the kindness of strangers to get home will be a great introductory adventure to the city.


6) Locate the closest hospital and police station

Find on a map where the closest hospitals and police stations to have an idea in case of an emergency. You may never need to know, but it’s a good precaution to know where these places are located in the case of a stroke of bad luck. Take note of emergency numbers for your cellphone and fridge as well.


7) Talk to your concierge

If you have one, introduce yourself to the concierge working in your building. Tell them your name and learn theirs. It establishes a positive relationship with the people who are in charge of who enters and leaves your apartment building. It’s a good idea to know who they are and that they know who you are.




8) Go out with your roommates

Pick a spot either close to home or in a safe, popular nightlife area in your new city to have a fun night out with your new roommates. You’ll bond, relax and get to know part of the city’s nightlife. Just make sure you know beforehand how you’re going to get home.


Photo 1. based on London Underground, by André Zehetbauer, CC-by-2.0

Photo 2. based on _City Tour Map-01, by Gary R. Caldwell, CC-by-2.0

Photo 3. based on Soho Hotel, London, by Alan Light, CC-by-2.0,


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Elizabeth Trovall

After short stints in Argentina and Belize, Elizabeth is finishing up her fourth year in Santiago, Chile. Elizabeth writes about international internships, life abroad and professional development for The Intern Group. She also reports on politics, business and culture in Latin America for public radio and print media. An Austin, Texas native, Elizabeth first left home to earn her journalism degree from the Reynolds Institute of Journalism at the University of Missouri. Besides her friends and family, she misses live music and Mexican food the most.
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