When you arrive in a new city, acclimation might take a little time. Linguistic and cultural differences plus a heavy dose of home sickness will likely make it hard to adjust. However, upon arrival, there are some essential places for you to locate in your new city. Some of these places provide important emergency services, others provide you with a connection to home, and others will give you your first taste of your new home.
Emergency services are extremely important, so you’re always prepared for the unexpected during your time in a new city. Make sure you know the locations of:
- The Embassy — Your country’s embassy is the first and most important place to locate. Your embassy serves as your representative in a country where you don’t have the rights of citizenship. If you find yourself in trouble, for any reason, your embassy should be your first call. Plus, if there are any complications with travel documents or visas, you will likely need to work them out with your embassy.
Most students who study abroad never need to get in touch with their embassy during their term. But for those who do, it’s important to know where the embassy is so you can get ahold of them quickly and easily.
- Medical Services — Foreign medical services will likely be unfamiliar. You can still get quality care, but sometimes it can be difficult to explain exactly what you need when you need it. Make sure you know the nearest medical facility. Also, try to find a facility where they can speak your language. Even if you’re fluent in the language of the country where you are studying, medical terminology can be difficult in a non-native language.
BCA Study Abroad helps students locate the closest medical facilities during on-site orientation. Semester students can also use the On Call International services to help find local health care providers and provide translators if necessary.
When traveling to a new city, learning its culture and lifestyle are some of the most exciting parts. These essentials are especially important:
- Marketplaces — Depending on the living arrangements for your program, you’re going to need to do some shopping for food and other basic necessities. Figure out where the closest marketplace is, preferably one that is comparable to the supermarkets you’re used to. While wandering around a more customary marketplace is a wonderful way to experience another culture, when you first arrive, being able to easily find essentials will make transitioning easier.
- Banks — The nice thing about modern banking and ATMs is that you can usually find a way to withdraw foreign currency from your bank account with minimal transaction fees. However, these types of ATMs are usually only found at larger, central banks.
Before departing for your travels, it’s important to talk to your bank and tell them you’ll be using your credit and/or debit card outside the country and the dates of your program. If you don’t notify your bank, they’ll most likely deactivate your credit card due to unusual activity and think someone stole your card. Additionally, you should research which credit cards are typically accepted in your host country to ensure you’ll be able to make charges abroad.
- Post Office — Finding the post office is a great way to establish a connection to home, which will make transitioning easier. Large post offices will be more likely to help you with the logistics of international mailing as well.
- Local Restaurants — Talk to your resident director, host family and other locals to learn their suggested restaurants, cafés, grocery stores and other hotspots in the area. Your resident director may be able to give you suggestions on which type of local cuisine is best to try first, as your stomach adjusts to the new food. You can also try asking local waiters/waitresses, or members of your host family, for their favorite dishes to order at a local restaurant.
In the end, the best study abroad experiences balance an adventurous spirit with good planning. By identifying and locating the essentials early on, you can start exploring without worrying about the basics.