New place – new challenge by Anna Gil

I suppose that, at certain moment in life, everybody finds themselves in a situation when they should start their life from the very beginning: new school, new city, new university, new work – generally, a new big step.

Mostly, we think about it in bad categories. When we are forced to leave our “comfort zone” our only fellows are fear, stress and uncertainty.

Personally for me it wasn’t an easy decision to go abroad for few months. I had many concerns, questions and  doubts. But I’m also a curious person and it was my curiosity that overcame me and made me participate in Erasmus programme exchange in Hungary. What could happen?

But what if we treat it as a challenge, a chance for better future, an unforgettable experience? Today I want to present to you my ideas, observations and advices about the fresh start in new place.

1.       Be prepared

It’s obvious we cannot predict future but we can make it easier. Newest technology gives us a wonderful opportunity to find all information without leaving home. Put just a few hours in reading about the new place, culture, weather, currency. On forums, blogs, YouTube people post a lot about their opinions, feelings, experiences.

Before I came to Lisbon I’d asked my friend Kasia, who was here on her Erasmus, about everything that was important for me. Thank you Kasia!

2.       Little steps

Very often we freak out because of some situations that usually seemed so easy in the past and are sooo difficult in the new place. How to get from one place to another in a strange city? How to order a meal if they don’t speak my language or even English? I’m hungry, where is the nearest supermarket? Come on… do I really need a special ticket for the metro? and how do I get my profile picture?!!!

Just calm down, as it is said: “Rome wasn’t built in a day”. All you need is: smile on your face – it’s  all-purpose and it may help you reach all doors, patience – no one wants to die young, and perceptiveness – open your eyes for your surroundings and other people, observe and repeat.

3.       Don’t be shy

“Koniec języka za przewodnika” –this Polish proverb means that the language can be your guide. When someone asks you about something – answer, when you have questions –ask them! Mostly, people are glad that they can help you and that they are treated as experts.

In practice, after my first evening here I knew that we don’t have a hairdryer in the flat but Leona, my cheerful flatmate, offered to lend me one, all I had to do was ask. And after my first morning I knew that before 1pm I shouldn’t knock to others’ doors because everyone is sleeping 😀 And thanks Margot for showing me Pingo Dolce – the Portuguese Biedronka 😀

4.       People

Start with people from your apartment, work, building, university group – invite them for a coffee, walk or movie. It’s important to build good relations and to make a good first impression. They are great sources of information and they probably know some great places to chill out after the stressful  ‘first days”. Ask locals, I for example use It’s a platform where you can share your culture but also your personal ideas and interests.

You can find open, helpful and easygoing people everywhere. At work everyone offered me help and support, also, in my apartment I was treated as an equal flatmate right from the beginning.

Thanks Celso for inviting me to the Italian dinner – one more chance to meet new people and enjoy the Saturday evening in great company with a wonderful sense of humor.

5.       Independence

Independence is a big advantage – you decide what you desire to do. My idea is to search for some events, places and attractions on the Internet – I’m not limited to other people’s availability, time or mood. I choose what I like, what I care about and what I’m interested in. It’s also a great chance to explore yourself – you finally have time for yourself, time to find what is important for you. In silence you can understand yourself better and finally hear your own thoughts.

6.       Keep sth up

If you are an artist – create something new, if you like sports – find a gym, a local field or just put your sneakers on and go running by the river. It will keep you in a good mood, shape and it is something from your past that you’re used to.

That is why I try to practice my Italian twice a week and I don’t forget about my favourite TV series “The Big Bang Theory”.

7.       Family and friends

Don’t forget about them! They always want the best for you and they are probably as much stressed as you when they don’t have any news from you.

I’m skyping and writing to Poland regularly – I don’t want to lose contact with people who care about me and who are always there for me. It’s good to hear the latest gossip from my town. One more good news – my brother will come here in April !!!  😀

8.       Don’t say no!

If you have a chance to participate in something new, just grab it. Do you have anything better to do?


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