Student Life

How To... Explore a new city in a pandemic

By Lily Martin• Last updated: Jun 26, 2023
How To... Explore a new city in a pandemic
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There’s nothing more exciting than a new place when you first move, especially when you’re moving to university. New shops, new bars, new restaurants, new people, a whole new freedom and outlook on life. For most, moving to university is the first step on your journey to true independence, and most students relish in it. First of all, though, navigating your new environment is an important step to being comfortable with it. And there’s nothing more exciting than exploring a new city. So that’s exactly what I did - and this is what I learnt.

Planning, as ever, is everything

The best way to start is by looking at a map. There’ll be some obvious places you’ll probably want to check out - but where really depends on what you’re interested in. I focused on the central shopping district, and a few museums. Getting used to walking around your new home town or city is important. Once you’ve tackled getting to the places you’ll visit most, then test yourself by walking or commuting a different route. The more you experience, the more comfortable you will feel. To start off with though, dedicate a day to exploring. Check when places are open, as many will require you to book in advance and leave plenty of time to travel between.

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Be prepared for every eventuality

Bring an umbrella, a couple of face masks and some sunglasses on top of your usual essentials. Trust me, the weather can change fast – especially in the north of England where I am – and you’re better off being prepared. Hand sanitiser is also a must as you don’t know when you might need it. Be aware of local regulations and guidelines where you are – they’ll probably be well advertised – and stick to them where possible. Wear strong, comfortable shoes and layer up if it’s on the cold side. Most of all, be prepared to move a little out of your comfort zone as you find your favourite hide-aways in your new home city!

Don’t be afraid to be a little adventurous

Although I would never advocate to go down a dark abandoned alley at night instead of a brightly-lit main road, sometimes taking the long route can lead you to some exciting finds (during the day, anyway). Using the map on your phone, you can quickly adjust to explore new parts of a town or city and find new routes to your destination. Don’t be afraid to change up your plans in the day to discover something new and unplanned - that is, after all, what exploring a new city is all about!

Keep an eye out

I made notes on my phone of exciting-looking places that I didn’t have time to stop and try out. I also found a park I didn’t know existed, several coffee shops that looked perfect for studying and an independent interior decor shop that would be perfect for decorating for Halloween. I went down a road that looked like a dead-end and found a vintage clothing shop that I spent far too much money in. Often finding your feet in a new town or city takes days, if not weeks, of exploring and trying new things and places. That’s the best bit - knowing that each time you head out you’re going to discover something new and fascinating.

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Make sure you let yourself fall a little bit in love

It’s all a learning curve. Despite the fact that moving is strange and scary, especially to a new place, and when you’re balancing a new life at university as well, don’t forget to let yourself fall a little bit in love with your new home. Exploring is all about learning, and you’ll find as you settle in that you and your surroundings usually form a strong bond. Finding that one great shop that has everything you need, that one museum or attraction that reminds you of home or discovering somewhere you feel safe and blessed is the best part of university. And it’s only one adventure away!

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How to
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