BY CHARLOTTE MINGAY

In the upcoming years, a number of you may choose to capitalize on an opportunity given to you to do some traveling. Many chances to live abroad will arise during this time in your life, whether it’s an impressive exchange in Beijing, an exciting work prospect in New York, or a thrilling backpacking trip around Europe. I have had the chance to travel to a couple different countries to work. Specifically, working in Milan, I picked up a few tips and tricks on how to make the most out of your time exploring a foreign nation you’re expected to call home.

Explore places that suit your interests

If you’re living abroad for an extended period of time, you may forget to play the tourist a bit. Take advantage of your time away from home by looking up local attractions to visit in your spare time. Each nation has their own distinct architecture, music, history and more you should explore. There tend to be festivals, museums, and locations that might satisfy your niche interests. Another thing to consider looking into is the places near where you are living. The cities within countries can be extremely diverse, each offering rather distinct attractions.

Embrace the cuisine

Food is such an integral part of a nation’s culture. Binging on colourful dishes may just be the most enjoyable way of getting to know a new culture. The ingredients that classic dishes are composed of, as well as how they are prepared, can give a lot of insight into a country’s past and present. Moreover, the different fare that is common to the cantons in a country vary a lot more than you may think. Embrace the fresh fish of the coast and the wild boar of the countryside – you won’t regret it. Furthermore, if you’re cooking for yourself, it’s worthwhile to take advantage of ingredients that you don’t typically find in your local grocery store. Fusing what you know about cooking with the flavours of the country you’re living is likely to reward you in a delicious way. If you’re not an adventurous eater, just embrace the noodle dish that is native to where you are staying! (I’m still not sure if I went to Italy to work, or to eat pasta every day).

Look into local customs

There are countless elements that make up a country. You may often think of the things residents of a country do and forget to discern how they do them. For instance, observe or research typical greetings and phrases, when and how meals are eaten, and how people spend their free time. Figure out the way people get exercise in the country you’re living in, you may be able to pick up a new skill like yoga or skiing. Don’t feel like you have to perfect a new language, but it is definitely worthwhile to try and hone in on expressions you can use every day. One thing I’ve learned for sure in my travels: you may not recognize the title (Aperitivo, après-ski, etc.), but everywhere has its version of cocktail hour.

Find the balance

While living abroad is a fantastic opportunity, there may come a point in your trip when you experience homesickness. This is absolutely normal and should almost be expected. Leaving home to live in a foreign country for weeks or months is hard enough, and being away from your friends and family can make it that much harder. It’s lucrative to brainstorm things you do in your day-to-day life that could give you the feeling of familiarity you crave. There’s nothing wrong with staying in to listen to your favourite album with a cup of coffee, or get a pizza and binge a guilty pleasure sitcom. Living in another country can be an unparalleled experience, but the success of your trip relies on that balance of being moulded by an exciting culture and being your authentic self.

Charlotte Mingay is a 3rd Year Engineering student and Guest Contributor for MUSE Magazine.