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Navigating Public Transportation in a New City

by AIFS Abroad
Big Ben in London with Underground Sign for Public Transportation

One of the most exciting parts of studying abroad or doing an international internship is exploring a new city. The idea of navigating public transportation in a new place, however, can be really intimidating. If you’re feeling lost, don’t worry! We have some tips and tricks to help you master the art of getting around like a local. 

Keep these 7 public transportation pointers in mind if you’re studying or interning abroad: 

1. Do your research. 

First things first, do some research before you go abroad. Look up your options for public transportation in your program location. Is there a metro system? Buses? Trams? Do they have a website or app you can use to plan your routes and buy tickets? By doing your research before your program starts, you can get an idea of what to expect and help take away the stress of figuring it out on the spot. 

2. Be observant.  

Once you arrive, take some time to observe how the locals are getting around. Pay attention to where they’re entering and exiting the metro, which ticket machines they’re using, and which side of the staircase or escalator they use. This can be a great way to pick up some tips that you might not find in a guidebook. 

3. Use a guidebook or app. 

Speaking of guidebooks, if you’re feeling particularly nervous about using public transportation, it might be worth investing in a travel guide. You can also look for apps with information on public transport in your study abroad or internship program location. Many guidebooks will have detailed maps and explanations of the different public transportation options in a city, as well as details on buying tickets and avoiding common mistakes.  

4. When in doubt, ask for help! 

If you’re still feeling unsure, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Most cities will have information booths or kiosks at major transportation hubs where you can ask questions and get advice on the best way to get where you need to go. If you don’t speak the local language, try to learn some basic phrases relating to navigation, or have a translating app handy. Most people are happy to assist if you ask politely. 

5. Know your ticket options. 

When it comes to buying tickets, make sure you know your options. In most cities, you’ll find different types of tickets like single-use tickets or weekly and monthly passes. Some cities might have special discounts for students. It’s also a good idea to check if your study abroad or international internship program includes access to a public transportation pass. 

6. Safety first. 

While public transportation abroad is generally a safe and efficient way to get around, it’s important to take normal precautions to ensure you have a good experience. It’s always wise to be aware of your surroundings and keep an eye on your belongings.  

7. Sometimes getting lost is the best way to find yourself. 

Finally, it’s okay to get a little lost! Some of the best adventures happen when you take a wrong turn or get off at the wrong stop. If you have a basic understanding of how to get back to where you started, exploring a new city can be a lot of fun. 


Curious about what it is like to study abroad in England? 🇬🇧 Hear from AIFS Abroad student Jadyn from @howardu1867 as she tells us about the public transportation system in London! Jadyn recently took over our IG story to talk about her semester abroad — check it out on our YouTube channel! #studyabroad #studyabroadprogram #studyabroadlondon #london #studyabroaduk #studyabroadengland #semesterabroad #aifsabroad #howardu #howarduniversity #howardabroad #studyabroadsoblack #publictransportation #thetube

♬ original sound – AIFS ABROAD

Studying or interning abroad? You’ll get the hang of public transportation faster than you think. 

“At first sight, it seems daunting, but I caught on in like 2 days. The bus and the Tube and the train system, everything is so easy to learn, and it feels super safe.” – Jadyn, AIFS Abroad in London participant. 

It’s normal to feel overwhelmed when you first use public transportation in an unfamiliar city abroad. But with a little bit of preparation, you’ll be a pro in no time. So, grab your metro card, hop on a bus, and get ready to explore all the wonders your study abroad or internship destination has to offer! 

Pin image: London underground with text overlay saying "Tips for Navigating Public Transportation in a New City"
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