Travel Tips

A Semester or Internship Abroad – Part 2, Settling in

Congratulations, you made it. Get ready for some of the best months of your life. The main things you’ll need to keep in mind are keeping yourself and your things safe and not running out of money.

When you first arrive, buy a transit pass. Unless you’re living in a very small town, you’ll be taking transit everywhere. You’ll might also want to go to a mobile shop and buy a pay-as-you-go sim card. I didn’t know this, but outside of North America, you don’t have to pay for incoming calls. So if your family calls you on your cellphone long-distance. It costs you nothing. Depending how much money you brought with you, you might also want to consider opening a bank account.

Don’t be surprised is you experience some culture shock after a few days. Even if you’re staying in a country with a similar culture as your own, you’ll find that the little changes really get to you. This is going to sound silly but when I was in London, I got frustrated when the doors didn’t open the way I expected. (In Canada, all doors must open out so people can get out in case of fire, but this wasn’t the case in London.)

To look less like a tourist, I printed off a map of the city on a regular sheet of paper. This way if I got lost, I wasn’t advertising it to everyone. This doesn’t work for everyone, but if you have a smartphone with GPS, consider keeping it on as you walk around. Then, if you get lost, you can quickly figure out where you are and simply look like you’re checking your messages. If you carry a purse, make it one that you can completely cover with your arm.

Keeping track of your money is definitely not easy. I found it best to only keep the amount of cash I needed for the day in my purse and then replenish my cash every morning. This way I didn’t spend more than I had budgeted for the day. When it came to spending money, I told myself I would spend it on items that gave me the most bang for my buck. When I would go out for a day of site-seeing, I’d buy sandwich fixings at the supermarket and then have a picnic in the park. I’d save my money for sites that I would remember for a long time. (Heading to the market is also a good way to get cheap food and an experience). Whenever, I stayed at a hostel with breakfast, I would discretely save buns and meat to make a sandwich for lunch.

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