Monthly Archives: March 2011

Very Subjective Expat Survival Guide, Part 3

Rule No. 3: Get to know your surroundings.

Mine, for instance, looked a lot like this:

I love Croix Rousse. Things changed there every day.

Again, this may sound banal, but it’s an often-missed step, since once you reach your destination you are busy making your bedroom liveable and connecting your internet and trying to figure out where you can buy your groceries.  But it’s really worth taking the time at the beginning to find yourself in your new city. After all, how can you feel at home if you keep getting lost and don’t know which metro to take back home after a party, or which shady district to avoid? Granted, some people are better with a sense of direction than others, but venturing out to explore your new city with a proper map is what you should be doing, not skyping with your friends back home to tell them how miserable you are. Even though you scoff at typical tourist things because you are going to be a long-term resident, not one of those lost people wandering around with their eyes glued to guidebooks and walking into poles, become a tourist for a while. Rediscover the enthusiasm and the drive to leave your apartment and just walk around.

How to do this:

Take a guided tour of your new city.

Read those embarrassing guidebooks.

Take the tram from the first stop to the terminus (I love that word!), just look out the window and soak in your surroundings.

Take a different street every time you walk to work or you run.  You could discover things like this around the corner:

Photo taken in Lyon by friend CBH

Start geocaching already!! How many times do I have to mention this

Finally, if you’re in Europe: Spotted by Locals is an amazing resource. You will find suggestions of museums to visit, cafes to frequent, open-air markets to shop at, neighborhoods to explore – all ‘spotted’ by local people passionate about their city. If your city doesn’t have a Spotted by Locals cityguide or blog, read up on your city, explore, and become one yourself! Especially if you’re in Lyon – I’ve tried to become a spotter myself, but they need more people from Lyon before they launch a new city. Join me in lobbying for expansion to Lyon, because it is such a beautiful city, it shouldn’t miss out on its spot on the Spotted by locals website!

Finally, there is no better way to discover your surroundings then by showing someone else around. Enjoy your new home, but don’t enjoy it alone!

Now that you know how to unearth exciting new places right around the corner, tips on where to find great people and make new friends in the next post.

Both photos in this post were taken by my very good friend CBH during one of her two visits to Lyon. It’s that awesome – she visited twice! And I discovered a bit more of the city every time.