If you’re an international student studying in the US, getting to know your 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. This will allow you to see where locals go and what they do for fun in the area.

Of course, if there are any books, magazines, or movies with a focus on the town, check those out before you arrive. This way, you will have some idea of what to do when you get there.

Get in Touch with 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, like you. But you will also meet some students who grew up in the college town, or at least nearby.

As soon as you find out that a student is from nearby, ask about what locals do. They can probably tell you where the most popular shopping malls, movie theaters, bowling alleys and restaurants are.

If you happen to get along with any students who are from the college town, let them know that you’re interested in checking out the area. They will probably be happy to show you around, and maybe you’ll make a new friend from the experience.

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 like you are completely new to the area. 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 clothing store.

Get Involved

A fast way to get to know a college town is to become an integral part of it. Look for volunteer opportunities soon after you arrive. Spending time at the local soup kitchen or food bank is a great way to meet other locals who are also volunteering. If you have a scholarship that requires community service each semester, you will be fulfilling that requirement at the same time.

You can also look into getting a job in your college town. Sure, job options for international students can be scarce, but they do exist. Just 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 job, you will have to get around town. This will make it easy for you to see local landmarks and become familiar with major streets in the college town you’re living in.

If you put these tips into practice, you should start to feel comfortable in your 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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