If you’re a college freshman or international student studying in the US, getting to know your new college town is likely on your mind. Instead of worrying about how little you know about the area, let these tips help you get familiar with it fast.

Do Your Research

Having access to the Internet means you can get to know your new college town before you even arrive. You can start by visiting the city website, which should give you an overview of its amenities.

You can also find out inside information by checking online discussion forums and Facebook groups for the town. Instagram accounts that focus on events and places to eat in town are also worth a follow.

Start making a list of places to check out like shops and eateries, as well as any city wide events like fall festivals or farmer’s markets. That way, you’ll already have an idea of some fun things to do and see before you even arrive.

Get in Touch with the Locals

Once you arrive, you will likely start meeting students from all kinds of places. Some will have traveled from out of state — or even out of country — just like you. But you’re also bound to meet some students who grew up in or around town.

Ask them what locals do. From popular shopping malls and bowling alleys to nearby day trips and hikes, they’ll be able to fill you in on some of the local culture. Most locals will probably be happy to show you around, too. So don’t be afraid to express you’re interest in getting to know the area, and the locals — you might just make a lifelong friend!

Plan Group Outings

While meeting and getting to know locals can be a helpful way to get familiar with your college town, there are sure to be plenty of other students who are completely new to the area and just as eager as you are to explore. Why not plan some group outings so you can discover your new home together?

From grocery stores and pharmacies to cellphone stores and banks, there are plenty of places fellow first year students will need to find. Make it a fun trip by inviting your new roommates or classmates into town. You can grab lunch or take in a movie while you’re at it.

Who knows, you may even discover a hidden gem like a pretty park or funky thrift store.

Get Involved

A fast way to get to know any college town is to become an integral part of it. Look for volunteer opportunities in or around town. Spending time at the local soup kitchen or food bank is a great way to meet other locals who are also volunteering. (Not to mention volunteer work will look great on any future resume.)

You can also look into getting a job in your college town.  Sure, you could always get a job on-campus, but why not expand your horizons by exploring your off-campus options? If you’re an international student, just make sure to check out the rules associated with your student visa to determine what kind of job you can get and how many hours you can work.

Whether you end up doing community service or getting a part-time job at the local ice cream shop, you’ll be getting about town. This will make it easy for you to see local landmarks and become familiar with major streets.

If you put these tips into practice, you should start to feel comfortable in your new college town in no time and before you know it, you might be the one showing other students the best local cafes and pubs!

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