The transition to college and a new city may be overwhelming at the start of college experience. But if you know what is around you, you can take advantage of new opportunities and resources in your new community. Here are some tips to help you navigate the community outside of campus.
1) Research transportation options
Many colleges that are in or close to major cities have public transportation that makes exploring 100 times easier. Before going to campus or right when you arrive see how people in that city get around town. If you know the best ways to travel you will be more likely to go off campus. In Philadelphia we have Septa which provides underground transportation and buses all around the city. It even has a train that takes you right into the mall.
Even if there are no public transportation options, another option that is available almost anywhere is Uber though this can get a little pricey throughout the year. Additionally, many schools who are far from the city offer frequent transportation to nearby cities.
2) Join classes or get a membership
If you had a membership to a workout class such as Orange Theory or SoulCycle back home see if they have a facility close to campus. If you love to dance but don't have the time to join a dance team at school (which is usually extremely time consuming) go to a weekly dance class. This will give you a chance to go off campus for a bit each week and get a workout in at the same time.
Yoga classes offer a great workout and can help improve mental health. Being at college can be stressful, especially being on your own (possibly for the first time) and taking tough classes so yoga can be a great solution to help relax and take your mind off school for an hour or two a week. If you are into art but aren't taking any art classes, do research to see if there are any art stores that offer classes for adults, chances are there is one art store in your area that has classes.
3) Look for volunteer opportunities
A great way to connect with your new community is to volunteer. Volunteering is available almost everywhere so even if you go to school in a more remote area there are probably volunteer options around you. This is an easy way to get off campus and do good for underprivileged people around you. You could bring your friends along and meet many people (volunteers and people you are helping) from all different backgrounds.
Here are some ideas for volunteering opportunities:
Look for a food drive to help sort cans or give out food
Find an animal shelter to work at
Big Brother Big Sister of America- this is an organization which has a program in many cities, you might be able to apply to be a Big through your school
Serve food at a homeless shelter
4) Remember you are not stuck on campus
My first semester of college I constantly forgot that I lived so close to a city so I never took the opportunity to go. I would only find activities to do on campus but sometimes I felt stuck because I was eating the same thing every week and going to the same place to study or hang out everyday. Second semester I started taking advantage of Septa more often and went into the city even if it was to run a small errand or go get lunch somewhere new. This made weekends more enjoyable and I felt more connected to the city I was living in.