How to make a foreign city your own?

These days it is not uncommon to take a one, two or even a three-month vacation to go about and explore the world. It’s just you and your backpack, sandals and sunscreen. The situation changes radically when you move somewhere for a few months to work – it is real business. Knowledge of the city and the culture plays a whole different role when actually living in the place. Here are some crucial tips for all of you about becoming a migrant worker:

1. Do your homework.

Borrow a good guidebook from the nearest library and learn a little about the city beforehand, and it will be that much easier to start feeling at home in the new city. Check out how to get to your accommodation from the airport, what kind of restaurants there are in the area, and if there’s anything special happening at the time of your arrival. Festivals and public events are great places to meet new people, and also offer convenient discussion topics once you start meeting new colleagues at work.

2. Take some time off before starting work.

Most people don’t want to rent an apartment on the internet, and for a good reason – you never know what you get (if anything). That is why you should arrive in the city at least 3-5 days before your work begins, and start hunting for a place immediately. Best case scenario would be that you already had some open house meetings scheduled beforehand. Once the apartment deal is closed, you can really start home-ing the city.

3. Get a good, compact map.

Emphasis on compact. Forget about those foldaway maps that when catching the wind smash on your face, and that never seem to fit into the same neat package it was taken from. Get a discreet guidebook that has integrated maps in it and a few recommendations about what to do in each area, it’s more subtle and lasts longer – with a regular map it’s goodbye after the first rainy day. The streets and alleys are quickly imprinted in the map of your mind, and the first time you leave the apartment confident of coping without the map, is when you can pat yourself on the back.

After that, it’s up to you! Don’t be afraid to do something spontaneous, the guidebook only gives suggestions. Uncover your own places, and remember to mark the spot in the map when you find something interesting by yourself! These are the defining moments when you finally start feeling like home, having your own secret places and spots that make you feel no longer like a stranger, but a true local.

When do you start feeling at home at a strange place? When you’ve learnt the language a bit? Or when you’ve got local friends? Share your tips with us!

[Suomi]

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