You packed your bags, found your new home, and took the plunge…halfway around the world. The hard part’s over, but what comes next can be even more overwhelming. How do you get from home to work? Where’s the best place to get your café au lait?
We’ve rounded up the best ways to check out your surroundings.
1. Travel like a local
Traveling by foot or public transportation are the best ways to get a sense of your surroundings. Famous historical site only a few stops away? Check.
2. Find your haunt
Once you’ve mastered the metro, hop off at a random stop and explore the area. Put your phone away and let yourself get lost in your wanderlust — literally. You may even stumble upon a hidden gem in the neighborhood. When you find your bar, coffee shop, or bookstore, make it yours by getting to know the staff and regulars.
3. Meet the locals
Mingling with locals is an absolute must. Check local listings for concerts, shows, or holiday festivities — or use sites like Meetup to see where people go for events. Locals know all the great places to see — and the ones avoid.
4. Join a language exchange
Contrary to conventional wisdom, when it comes to learning a language, talking to strangers is key. You have to put yourself out there. Many cities offer language exchanges in low-key places, like book shops, that help expats communicate with locals.
What’s better than working toward a cause and building relationships along the way? Get involved with a local charity, or contact a community organization. Volunteer International Programs Association can help you find a mission that aligns with your interests, and Projects Abroad offers volunteer opportunities in more than 30 countries.
6. Stay Safe
It may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s easy to gain a false sense of security in a new place. Stay alert during the day and avoid aimlessly wandering at night.
The expat life can be both challenging and rewarding, but there are plenty of ways to adjust. The hardest part is over — now comes the adventure. Be patient with yourself, embrace being uncomfortable, and soak it all in.