One of the best parts of studying abroad is being able to see all of the sights and wonders that are different from what you’re used to seeing at home. One of the best (and sometimes most frightening) ways to do that is to utilize the public transportation systems abroad. However, if you’re from a suburban or rural area, the transition into using public transportation can be quite difficult. Below are a few tips that may help save your money and your sanity while trying to get around abroad.
1. Be Informed: Try looking up the public transportation system online before you get to your destination or right after you arrive. Don’t be intimidated by the fact that it’s in a different language. Most websites are pretty basic, so look for key words. Also, ask your host family or program staff. They could help you get a metro pass and get situated.
2. Be Aware: Most times, native people will know that you are American. You can’t avoid that. However, you can be aware and cautious. For women, it’s helpful to keep a satchel bag that’s big enough for a few schoolbooks and all of the things you would keep in your purse. Keep your things close to you, but you don’t have to be unnaturally paranoid. A little extra observance will take you a long way.
3. Find ways to save money: Some metros have special discount rates for students or allow free rides if you use both the metro and the bus. Know all of your options.
4. Don’t be ashamed to ask questions: A lot of public transit systems have workers who will guide you to the right direction, but you have to ASK!
5. Carry a map around! It’ll help you out in monumental ways, and if you’re a little embarrassed to speak a foreign language, the map will help.
6. Lastly, talk to your host family and friends to find different ways to travel. The metro may be best to go a certain place and the bus another. You’ll save time and money doing your research first.