There is no thrill quite like discovering a new city. There are new smells, the atmosphere is different. When you walk down the street, you don't know what will appear around the corner. A tiny square, perhaps, or a market full of fresh seafood.
Many students who go on our Internship Programmes to London and Dublin have never travelled on their own before and some have never travelled at all. We have published numerous city guides over the years, but did you know there is a secret system to discovering a new city?
Firstly, you should do some research. There are plenty of good reading to do on Lonely Planet, Rough Guides and The Guardian. Their guides usually include both popular tourist destinations and lesser-known local treats as well as inside-tips on how to blend with the crowd. Did you know there is a 12,5 percent service charge added on the bill in most London restaurants for example? Or that Transport for Ireland has a perfectly good journey planner on their website? Asking friends who have visited or lived in your city of choice is a great way of getting insider tips. Or purchase a guidebook. Lonely Planet and Time Out city guides will tell you about the best sites and areas, while also introducing you to the history of the place.
With all this said, don't forget to be spontaneous. There is nothing more boring than ticking things off a list like they are some sort of chore. If you pass a museum and it looks intriguing, by all means, go inside whether or not you have heard of it before! Perhaps you run out of time and don't have the energy to go all across town to see some famous landmark. Then don't do it. It might be the perfect opportunity to hang around a bar or café and think about all the new things you have seen and done.
The best way to get your head around the geography of a new place is to walk or - if the city is bike friendly - cycle. Most cities, even big ones like London, shrink in size when you realise you can just walk across. If you take the underground everywhere, you have no sense of direction, while on foot, you will get a clear idea of how the neighbourhoods are connected. You will also get a sense of the buzz and atmosphere, which you will undoubtedly miss if you are cramped up in the corner of a hot carriage, counting the stations until it is your cue to get off.
Art and culture is the ticking pulse of every city. Without it, you are left with big buildings, traffic and commerce, but no vibrancy or life. If you are truly curious and want to delve below the surface of what you see, exhibitions, street art tours and music gigs are your way in. Or go to an independent cinema screening, see a play or visit an open mic comedy night. You might enjoy it, you might not, but it will be different and get your mind going.
Our last advice is simply to be friendly and open. You are a visitor and speaking to locals is your best way of getting to know the city you are in. Why not strike up a conversation with the waiter or barman? You might learn something new.
ADC College organises Internship Programmes in London and Dublin, eligible for funding from Erasmus+. Don't hesitate to contact us if you would like more information about what we do and how to get funding. Call a Country Manager today on +44 2084249424 or send a message to email@example.com.