What to Expect: First Week in Your New City

You just landed in your study abroad destination, your home for the next small chunk of your life. You’re probably sleep deprived, nervous, excited and don’t quite know where to begin. Here’s a small list that might help you make the adjustment and the most out of your first week in a new city.

Get situated

When you land in your destination, there’s unfortunately a lot of logistical issues to tackle. Yes, you’re about to embark on an amazing adventure, but it’s not a total vacation. You still need groceries, toiletries, a phone plan, transit tickets, etc. It’s tempting to go start exploring asap, but trying to live with nothing in your apartment and no way of getting around gets annoying quickly. Try to all those annoyances taken care of in the first few days so you can start exploring without a to-do list holding you back.

The Lennon Wall in Prague changes everyday so I took pictures of it every time I passed it for 4 months.

Get connected

It’s definitely scary trying to make friends at the beginning of abroad and it can also feel a bit forced to be asking strangers for their phone numbers to text them later. That being said, it’s a hump you’ll want to get over fast. At the beginning everyone is in the same position of not knowing what they’re doing, not having a friend group and wanting help figuring both out. The worst that can happen is you don’t text them, but having their phone number gives you the option.

Get Talking

Certain foreign languages are much easier to pick up on than others (Czech had me struggling a little bit), but learning the very basics isn’t too difficult. I felt so overwhelmed my first couple days walking in anywhere and having no clue what to say and instantly resorting back to English felt awkward and slightly rude. Before you get somewhere learn how to say “hello” “goodbye” “thank you” “please” “yes” and “no” and you’ll instantly feel more comfortable.

The red rooftops quickly became a defining characteristic of my new favorite city

Get Uncomfortable

In the first few days, basically everything you’re doing will be brand new, which is both exciting and uncomfortable. When you realize your new city is your oyster, it can be awkward knowing there’s so much to do and see but not knowing how to approach experiencing it all. My advice? Just start wandering. Go somewhere somewhat in the city center so you can’t get too lost and there will be lots to see. Embrace your curiosity and immerse yourself into the new culture.

Get Ready

One of the most cliche statements people can say about studying abroad is “it goes by fast”. It also happens to be one of the most accurate statements. Be okay with knowing that some days you’ll need to relax and take a breather, but if there’s ever a time to take on new adventures, and rack up a slept debt, it’s while studying abroad.

A view of the Vltava River on my first night in Prague I took when I started wandering.

All of this is easier said than done, and it’s ok if you’re overwhelmed at first. Be active in trying to adjust to your new life, but also be patient with yourself. Ultimately, this is your time, so do what you need to do!

Nicola M. is a CEA Alumni. She studied abroad in Prague in the Fall of 2017 and is currently a junior at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.

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