Survival In The City: Part One – The Basics

I don’t know if it’s just me but this year, many people seem to be making the big step of leaving the nest and venturing to big cities abroad. I happen to be one of these small-town girls leaving the shelter of my small village to seek better opportunities abroad – something I’ve dreamt of doing my whole life.


However, whether you’re leaving on an Erasmus experience, an internship, to work or just taking a year off from your studies, there are many things, I for one, overlooked before arriving here.

Therefore, as a wise few months expat, I’m here to share my learning experiences with you:


I would suggest packing the basics – which you can mix and match in different-looking outfits. Pack comfortable yet versatile shoes, which means that the killer heals get left behind. Brogues and boots are free to join.


As much as this was difficult for me, I decided not to pack any books with me and to switch completely to ebooks for the time being. Laptops, tablets and cameras may join the crew, as long as you remember to pack their respective chargers. Pack an extra mobile and buying a new SIM card is also recommendable.

(Note to self: misplacing the charger for this mobile is not highly advisable).


I suffer from Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) which means that I have to be very careful what I eat. I have also moved to a rather expensive city – Brussels. Finding something I can eat at a relatively affordable price is proving to be quite a challenge. I suggest looking for hypermarkets, such as Carrefour and LIDL – They usually have the best prices. I have also learnt that fresh produce comes cheaper when bought from Sunday markets. I bought a travelling mug and a reusable lunchbox – an investment towards healthier and cheaper meals (I hope).


Transport abroad usually costs an arm and a leg – the latter being a limb which you can definitely use to walk instead of catching buses and metros. Walking around cities helps you orient yourself better and see more things. Best of all, it helps you save money. Make sure you know which areas to avoid walking through. Also, make sure you are equipped with a map or at least a decent sense of direction – two things yours truly is currently missing.

Written by: Christa Boffa