| Regent's Park is a hot spot for local Londoners
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Everyone will tell you this, but it is some of the best advice you will receive before embarking on your adventure abroad. Staying connected with your host city will not only keep you informed on major events, but it will also help you discover new things to do (many with free/cheap admission).
2. Learn the Lingo
Don’t be annoying and use local colloquialisms in an attempt to become a local. Instead, catch yourself picking up the little things, like saying “cheers” instead of “thanks” or “queue” instead of “line.” You might annoy your friends back home when you can’t break those habits, but it will be a fun reminder of your time abroad.
3. Meet Locals
This is deceptively easy. While you are studying abroad, you will mostly spend your time with other study abroad students, meaning that it requires a bit of effort to make friends with locals. But do not be discouraged by this, hanging out with people who live in your host city is the gateway to untapped gems your city has to offer—how else will you discover that great café with local artists or that tiny boutique with affordable, yet stylish fashions?
4. Get Lost
I realize that sounds a bit strange, but hear me out: sometimes you need to get lost in order to discover where you are (you can take that in a metaphorical sense as well, young grasshopper). But in a literal way, trying to find your way home without help from a map or a stranger can be a great way to get to know your city. Just don’t try this at 2 a.m., please.
| Get lost and stumble upon cute markets where pretty flowers are sold
5. Avoid Tourist Traps
Piccadilly Circus is the bane of every Londoner’s existence. Be warned that a trip there means shoving your way past thousands of people who have their necks cranked up to see all the tall buildings. If you plan on seeing some of London’s famous West End theatre (it’s a must), you will have to make an appearance here, so here is your warning.
| One of London's many tourist traps, but it's worth the visit every once in a while
6. Try Local Styles
We all want to be European and trendy, right? Well now is your chance! Soak it up, my friend and don’t be afraid to buy a few things you can’t get back in the States. A fair warning for those of you heading to London, it’s quite expensive, so spend wisely.
7. Go Where the Locals Go
While it’s nice treating yourself to a fancy meal every once in a while, keep in mind that the best places in your host city are the cheaper, lesser-known ones.
| A London favorite
8. Learn How People Travel
If you don't know every line and station of the Tube after a semester in London, you’re doing something wrong (I’m kidding, but only a little). It is critical that you learn how people get around, mostly so you don’t spend a fortune on taxis, but also so you don’t look like a fool.
9. Follow the Unwritten Laws
While there are many codified laws you must abide by while living in a foreign city, there are also many unwritten “laws” that could get you in more trouble if broken. For instance, whatever you do, do NOT stop while tapping in at a Tube station, you will rue the day you made the person behind you two seconds late.
10. Emulate the Accent
I’m kidding, don’t do that—seriously, don’t.
So go ahead, reallyget to know your city. You may end up becoming so immersed you’ll learn to even hate the same things the locals hate (there’s no way I’ll step foot south of the Thames).
Karly Sandsmark is the Spring 2014 CEA MOJO in London, UK. She is a junior at Colorado State University.
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