We caught up with SAI Milan Program Coordinator Laurence, who is contributing to our blog this month. Laurence is including some must-do’s for those first few days in your host city.
Here are 10 alternative things to do during your first week in your new study abroad city:
1) Get the boring stuff done
“Oh god! If this is number 1, I’d hate to see number 10.”
Yes, you may have pupils the size of saucers and be raring to blast out into the town, to live every day to the maximum. However, the basic admin, grocery shopping and all the rest other stuff we deliberately leave to last-minute will still need doing and the start of your time abroad is the best time to do it.
Therefore, instead of stressing about how to get a metro card 3 mins before your first day of class, take a relaxed day just to sort all this out (awarding yourself with cake optional, but, definitely recommended). You then also get the smug prize seeing everyone else flounder.
Does this need justifying? Food makes us, fuels human culture, endeavour and we are all the better for it. Try new dishes and vegetables that you didn’t know back home. You’ve changed from the 5 year old version of you that hates tomatoes so give them a chance and reap the rewards.
Finally, you’ll learn to yo-yo along aisles of local markets, sampling street food and then fine dine as much as you can.
3) Be a Tourist
Get on those tours. See those main sites, brave queues and buy the ‘souvenir’ that you will look at in two months and wonder “but, I don’t even like Harry Potter. Why did I buy this luminous wand fridge magnet again?”
4) Join a university club
Meet locals and other students. Team up and claim your study abroad city and learn a new skill whilst you’re at it.
No clubs at your university? O shame…or start one and claim all the credit when it becomes a roaring success.
5) Try something brave
An opportunity for something that puts you out of your comfort zone? You will only truly regret the things in life you never do. Grab it with both hands and enjoy the look of shock in your family’s faces as you recount your tales of glory to them afterwards.
6) Slob out with conviction
Let’s face it. You made the decision to come on study abroad and you alone. If you don’t feel like going to another gallery today or need to recover from some serious study, make it an exceptional day at home. Invest all energy Netflix, popcorn, good food, friends and whatever else your ideal lazy day needs and reap the energy boost for tomorrow.
Sometimes, the best way of getting a feel for a city is to change your routine. Instead of scurrying – head down, headphones rocking – onto the underground, commit to walking between stops. You will then pass by the cities hidden gems and numerous things to photograph as a reminder to come back too.
8) Say Yes
New activity giving out trial sessions? A tentative coffee with new classmates? Just say Yes. Create your own luck by jumping into your life, being in the right place at the right time.
9) Get outside of your immediate environment
You’ve taken a big step to leave your home turf for a semester and dive into another culture. However, even in the first week, you may come unstuck by any form of issue settling into your ‘home away from home.’ Take a step out to see it all from another place, relax and re-access before diving back in.
Even if just for 5 minutes.
Week 1: Not too shabby. What’s next?