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What to do During Your First Week in a New City

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A brief list to help you orientate yourself during your first period abroad or in a new city, to not get lost and to not feel homesick.
person behind a world globe

Settling in is potentially one of the biggest challenges you will have to face after moving to a new city or country. Many exchange students or employees plan their move abroad carefully and ensure that all the tasks associated with leaving their home country are completed in full, prior to their physical departure to a new country. However, sometimes people fail to take into consideration all the things they will need to do once they arrive and it is common for them to go into shock during their first week, when they find themselves in a foreign country with no friends, living amongst people whose lifestyles are completely different from what they are used to. In order to prepare yourself in advance for any culture shock you may face, you should familiarise yourself with the new culture as much as you can before moving by reading a lot about the customs and people you will encounter when you relocate.

woman walking in street
credit: Steven Lewis

Once you arrive in your new city, remember that it will be frustrating at times and misunderstandings and miscommunication will occur.  While temporary, the first week is still a difficult time for the “culture shock” and for the “logistics” arrangements due to the relocation.

Here you can find some tips that can help you organise your daily life upon your arrival while adjusting to your new city:

1. Note the differences

Write a list or prepare a scrapbook which details the things about your current life in your home country that you don’t like before you leave. If you feel a sudden urge to return home, read the list to remind yourself of your motivations to move.

2. Update your family

Keep in touch with friends and family on a regular basis by email, Skype calls or postcards. Arrange trips home.

3. Keep a diary

Write a daily report of your new experiences; write down a paper or online diary about how you are feeling.

woman on table outside with notebooks
credit: Alexis Brown

4. Physical activity/healthcare

Find a gym and/or take plenty of exercise to keep your body and mind active. Make sure you have your full medical and vaccination records with you, especially if you have an ongoing medical condition. If you forget them, you can always ask your family to mail them to you.

5. Social events

Join social groups and international clubs; meet people who have already gone through what you are going through now. Arrange social events yourself that allow you to enjoy and experience the new culture as well as events that allow you to engage in hobbies that you enjoyed in your home country.

6. Meet the locals

Find accommodation together with local people, if possible, and learn the language of your new country. Join tandem programs that will allow you to meet a local and teach them your language in exchange for them teaching you theirs. Take the opportunity to learn as much about their culture and customs as you can.

people talking in the street
credit: Alexis Brown

8. Arrange your accommodation

Transfer all of your essential items into your new home, arrange the new furniture and electronic devices according to your needs - you can easily buy new items in the local shops.

9. Find the appropriate transportation

Estimate the distance between your accommodation and university or workplace to figure out the best way to commute  - is it by public transportation/bike or a car?)

10. Ease homesickness

Don’t make any rash decisions. Take the time to get used to the differences. Be open and honest about your feelings and remember that it is completely natural to feel homesick. In fact, homesickness is one of the main signs that you are experiencing culture shock. This will pass and it will not be long before you are settled in and enjoying your new culture.

people looking down at a map
What to do During Your First Week in a New City

What are you waiting for? Apply these simple tips to feel less homesick!

Written by Wilmer Mostacciuolo