Photo credit: Daryan Shamkhali
By Lauren Mhyra
So you’ve taken the leap to head abroad, new country, new city, fresh start! It’s exciting but can be nerve-racking to head somewhere with a clean slate. Much like heading off to college for the first time there are those things you wish you knew from the start. So, here are my tips and bits for starting life in a new city.
Don’t expect things
My biggest recommendation is to not set expectations for yourself. You probably have done countless hours of research and scrolled through hundreds of Instagram pages and have a must-do-list. If you block out every minute of your stay you’re likely to miss out on the hidden gems you had no clue about. You’re going to be integrated with others in a similar situation as you as well as locals so you’re going to get tons of suggestions that weren’t necessarily on the ‘Top 10 must do in Dublin’ list. Go with the flow, try out suggestions from colleagues and talk to your housemates about their interests.
My rule of thumb is if I can get it at home, I tend to pass on it.
Additionally, mentioning expectations, completely forgo any notions about home. Dublin is a modern and diverse city. There’s going to be tons of the same things that you can find back home. But you will come to find out that your regular order from Starbucks doesn’t exist here. You’ll be in a for a BIG let down if you are constantly comparing things from back home. My rule of thumb is if I can get it at home, I tend to pass on it.
Get the touristy bits out of the way first
The first few days you’ll likely have some free time. Do those big-ticket tourist items first to check them off so when people ask, you can say you’ve done it. If you make friends with locals, they are likely not going to want to do the leprechaun museum with you. This also opens up your schedule to do other things when you begin to meet people. This is also a great way to learn your new city’s history and culture so you’re well immersed when you make friends with locals. When people are talking certain historical events, you’ll understand and you can point out an awful Guinness pour.
Learn the public transit system
Learning to use the public transportation system is going to save you so much time and make your life easier when it’s down pouring rain. I was intimidated by the bus and afraid that I would look ‘stupid’ not knowing what to do. For 6 weeks I walked everywhere and if I couldn’t walk I said forget it. I could have slept in a little more in the mornings and think about all of the things I was missing out because it was ‘too far’. Don’t let this happen to you, it might take a try or two to get it right but after a few rides, you’ll be able to do it in your sleep.
It’s okay to do things alone
You’ve already taken the leap to move to a country on your own. Don’t be afraid to go do the things you want to do regardless of if there’s someone to do it with. There are many ways to find events happening within Dublin, utilize them! Going off on your own allows you to step out of your comfort zone. You’re not shielded by the comfort of familiarity.
The best stories are found in the pages of a passport!
Travel Travel Travel
You’re living in a country that is accessible to so many wonderful places. You could have stayed home and watched Netflix in bed for free, why come do it in a foreign country? Whether you take a bus to the next town over or you splurge on that €50 Ryanair flight, just go somewhere. I like to head somewhere new at least once a month. The best stories are found in the pages of a passport!
If travel planning on your own feels overwhelming, you could always consider traveling through a program. At Stint Ireland, we provide experiences for those wishing to intern abroad, take a gap year or a combined experience. Our enquiry form is non-committal and we aim to ensure you are supplied with all the right information that you will need to make that travel dream a reality.