How to Navigate Your City as an International Student


ISO Customer Care | Dec 20, 2023 Student Life

So, you’ve finally made it – the college campus of your dreams and a whole new environment to explore. While you should use your time in the U.S. to devote to your studies, you should also take advantage of your new location and partake in some new experiences.

Give Yourself a Reason to Branch Out

Many students see their college campus as home for the period they are in attendance, which is fortified with opportunities to study, hang out, and self-improve. A good way to incentivize yourself to leave is to find something out there that fits the space you are trying to emulate. Some examples of this are:

  • Going to a coffee shop/bookstore in the city to study.
  • Getting a gym membership somewhere off campus.
  • Hanging out at a popular park or eatery to socialize.

There is something for you in the surrounding area you study nearby. Speaking to upperclassmen like those who assisted in your orientation can be helpful in getting their recommendations for the things you like. Sometimes, the city you visit can be known for certain sites and features, like the California coast or New York skyline.

Different clubs and events can occur all throughout your nearby city or town, and your school will be the primary messenger for any of these pop-ups. You’ll be informed about these occasions through different means, including email reminders, club meetings, and even bulletin boards with flyers.

Brush Up on Public Transportation

Before going out into your new city, you’ll need to understand how to best get around. When exploring, try to visually pick up on things that many of the locals do. You’ll be able to answer a lot of questions about transportation, like:

  • Is this a walkable city?
  • Is there a bus system that people rely on? (as in, do you see many people getting on or off?)
  • What are the most used transportation systems nearby?
  • Are there established bike lanes, or an established bike-sharing system?
  • Will I need a car to get around often?
  • Does my school provide any transport into any areas?

Some apps, like Citymapper, are helpful in determining the best options of getting around in many North American cities, even including navigation options for scooters and bikes. If you are confident in your ability to get around, don’t be afraid to allow yourself to get lost in areas you want to explore, as you’ll be surprised of what you might find there. However, consider other rideshare apps, like Uber or Lyft, if you ever need to go home and are not sure of your location.

Do What the Locals Do

Sometimes, the interests and observances of the local area may align with your interests. Whether it may be a food festival that you want to sample, a convention that speaks to a certain interest you have, or a mall that everyone spends their time in – if it appeals to you, you should go.

There is a bonus if your city is known for certain styles of food or cuisine. You can take advantage of events like pub and restaurant crawls. These events are fitting for new students looking to take in a new area through gastronomic means and helps as social events for multiple people!

Sometimes, locals take on the form of travel bloggers, so for those who rely on the internet for recommendations, you can use their website as a hub for all your location needs. Bloggers go out of their way to find things even a local would appreciate, so you’ll get an inclusive experience even just by looking at their photos.

Find Centers of Culture

The best way that you’ll get to learn more about a new city or area is through the spots that contribute to the overall appeal of the city or have earned that city the reputation that it has. You might find these centers in the “Downtown” area of your city or somewhere typically filled with more opportunities for leisure, like museums, malls, and restaurants. It is in these areas that you’ll find more people walking around, higher numbers of businesses and spaces to visit, and a deeper understanding of the city you are staying in.

Getting around your city can be busy, chaotic, and may even be the cause of unprecedented sicknesses/injuries. In the cases of events like these, international students can rely on ISO Student Health Insurance, which provides comprehensive, affordable coverage for as low as $31/month. Your enjoyment of the city can be maximized when you are not constantly worried about your well-being.

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About ISO Student Health Insurance

Founded in 1958, ISO prides itself on being the leader in providing international students with affordable insurance plans. Administered by former and current international students, we are able to assist our member with multilingual customer service in Chinese, Hindi, Spanish, and more. ISO serves over 3,200 schools/colleges and more than 150,000 insured students every year.

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