Visiting a new place for a day, week, month or longer brings to life the travel bug in us all. You probably want to see everything right off the bat, all the big tourist attractions and museums as soon as you get there. While I completely encourage being a tourist for at least one day anywhere you go (those spots are popular for a reason) I also think it’s important to wander along enjoying the city on your first day.
Do your research: Even if you’re just planning on wandering, look up the city you’re going. Know where the big sights are, a few highly recommended restaurants, famous attractions and the general vicinity of where the commotion happens. That way if you happen to pass by any of these you’ll know what it is and can stop in.
Get a map: Just because you don’t have an itinerary doesn’t mean you don’t need a map. This may sound contradictory but it is important to be able to find landmarks and have a general idea of where you are at all times so that if you find something cool you’ll be able to find it again. Also, if you run into any bad areas you can get yourself out quickly.
Don’t be afraid to stop: If you see a restaurant that sparks your interest, a store with some cute boots or even some interesting street performers, don’t be afraid to stop and enjoy it. Just because you’re spending the day walking around doesn’t mean you can’t walk into shops or restaurants. These little things are what make the city unique and give you a feel for the different environments the city has to offer.
Embrace your tourist: If you stumble upon a site, stop and take pictures. Take it in as a part of the whole city and not just one unique thing. Take pictures of architecture you find interesting and statues you see even if you have no idea what they are or who they’re by.
Taking in a new city in this relaxed way gives you a chance to explore and experience the city as a whole and not just for the few spots that everyone knows about. You’ll be able to see if you actually like the whole city: if it’s a great shopping city or a city focused on its history, if it’s full of interesting people or full of colorful culinary finds. Squeezing in every attraction on the first day can be overwhelming and tiring. Take your first day to relax and get to know this new city.
For more advice and relatable posts about study abroad check back here every week. Good luck and happy travels!