Moving internationally is truly the best way to learn about a place. Vacation can give you a good idea on your general feelings towards a city, but you’ll never fully understand it until you’ve taken some time and energy to learn about the minutia that really makes it tick. If you will be or are currently living overseas, here are a few ways to learn as much as possible about your new city while having a great time.
- Go ahead, be a tourist. You’ll want to check out all of those touristy sights first, because once you’ve settled in to a place, you’ll be less keen on being around all of those “tourists”. There’s a reason why those locations are popular; they’re usually the most beautiful or unique or interesting things a city has to offer, so it’s a great start to learning about what makes your city different from the rest.
- Take a guided tour. While this could fall under the “tourist” category, there’s no better way to really understand the landmarks, buildings, and history of a city than with a guided tour, either through a book or by an actual person. They are particularly useful if you don’t speak the local language. The added bonus of using a tour guide is that you’ll have options like a walking tour, a boat tour, a bus tour, or even a Segway tour (of course, depending on where you live this will vary).
- Walk and get lost. Let’s call this the unguided tour. Walking is seriously one of the best ways to learn about an area (and to get your exercise for the day). You’ll notice stores and details that you normally wouldn’t when in a car or bus. Plus, when wandering aimlessly, you never know what amazing places or people you’ll stumble upon.
- Take a cooking class. Every culture has their iconic dishes, along with different ways of making and flavoring food. To get a whole new appreciation of that curry place on the corner or that homemade pasta joint, dive right in and learn to make it for yourself. Not a chef? Not a problem. You’re just there to learn, not cater to royalty. Although the tips you learn could come in handy for a dinner party down the road.
- Have a drink with the locals. Despite whether you prefer a cold Coca-Cola or a glass of scotch, there’s absolutely no better way to learn about your new city then by stopping to have a drink at a bar and talking with others. They’ll always be able to give you the inside scoop that you won’t get in a travel book.