Moving to a new city, especially one much larger than what you are accustomed to, takes bravery and can be different than anything you’ve experienced before – but it is all worth it! Here are a few things to keep in mind when moving to a new city to maximize your experience!
The easiest way to learn the city is to travel like a local. Not only will learning the way the metro and bus system works make the city seem that much smaller, it can also provide some beautiful views of places you wouldn’t necessarily get to see otherwise. Learning how to use the metro has a way of immediately making the city seem manageable and you feel like a local, and maybe even a pro. It is the least expensive way to get around any large city, and usually the fastest!
Taking it All In:
Moving to a new city can be overwhelming. Take a couple minutes every day - or every time you come up out of the metro - to look around and appreciate the fact that you are in this new, beautiful city. Appreciating the chance you have to live abroad is something that is vital. It places the city in a whole new light and helps you appreciate the beauty that is new and everywhere, like coming out of the metro in Paris and having a full view of Notre Dame.
Playing it Safe:
Any big city, in any country around the world, has its own set of issues to watch out for. One such issue is the tourist scam. Most of these are centered in tourist areas, as the locals have caught on. Examples range from being approached by children pretending to be deaf and asking for donations, to women dropping their youngest child while their older children run around and grab purses and shopping bags, to cab drivers taking you far out of your way to increase their payment. The best way to combat this is to make sure you are aware of your surroundings at all times, and if something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t. A good way to avoid being labeled as a tourist is to observe the local culture!
The most simple way to avoid being pick-pocketed is to simply be aware of your surroundings. Like scams, pick pockets tend to target tourist heavy areas. Avoid leaving your purse unzipped, keep your wallet in your front pocket while in crowded areas, and don’t leave your belongings out your reach. If picnicking in a park, sitting on a bench, on the metro, or sitting at an outdoor cafe, loop your purse handles through your arm or ankle and don’t leave your wallet sitting out. These are all common sense things that apply to every city in the world, no matter where you are!
How to Meet People:
Join trivia night at a local bar. Research free clubs for things you like to do (running, soccer, etc.). Join a language exchange club. These meet a few times a week and you get to practice the local language half the time, and then locals practice their English with you. I made a rule when I first moved abroad, that any time I was invited to something, I said yes. This got me out of my comfort zone and introduced me to so many people I wouldn’t have met otherwise!
Check out the Free Days/Options:
Most cities have a day or two a month where admission to museums are waved, or even free. This is a great way to see historical and touristy places around the city on a budget! Another great thing to do, especially in the warmer months, is to spend the day in a local park. This is a great way to appreciate the beauty of the city while living like a local.
Eat Like a Local:
Eating like a local is one of the best ways to understand the local culture, and appreciate the cultural differences. It is also something that people don't usually consider. Pacing yourself to eat like the locals, eating what they eat and when they eat, will give you a huge amount of insight to how people live and what they value. Many European cultures place an emphasis on the social aspect of sharing a meal, and would never consider walking down the street while eating. In any major city in the USA, you can find people sprinting through their day and eating on the run while Europeans tend to take their time while eating, and stop all other activity. Don't forget to appreciate the way people in your new city approach their every day activities!
The main take away from city living is just this – appreciate the chance you have to live in a new city abroad. Understand how other cultures function. Be aware of your surroundings. If something doesn’t feel right, remove yourself from the situation. Don’t become blasé about all the beautiful monuments and scenery.