The rural student’s guide to navigating city living

February 15, 2017
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Moving to the city is one of the most exciting and stressful things you can do as a young adult. Even after months of planning and buying one of everything in Kmart, you come to realise that no amount of Adidas sneakers and cute house plants can prepare you for some of the surprises of city livin’.

Thankfully, hundreds of people have moved to cities before you, and with them comes tricks of safety and etiquette that will get you one step closer to surviving and nailing city life.

Learn how to use your city’s public transport system

Even if you have the deepest bond with your car and nothing could ever tear you two apart, understanding how your city’s public transport system works (or at least how to use the transport app) is a skill every new city resident should master.

Whether your phone’s dead and you’re trying to get home after one-to-many brewskies, or a customer at work asks you how to get from A to B, knowing the public transport system will get you a little bit closer to becoming a true local.

Buy a portable battery pack

Navigating a city for the first time can be a steep learning curve, and until you’ve got it down pat, Google Maps will be your best friend. It can give you step by step directions and tell you where the closet public toilet is, but it will also drain your battery life faster than you can say iPhone.

Investing in a battery pack and remembering to keep it with you will save you from awkwardly asking passers-by for directions. Plus, you’ll always have a way of contacting someone if, in your lost state, you stumble into a sketchy situation.

Always look like you know where you’re going

As someone who still gets lost despite living in the same city for two years, I’ve learnt that the bad guys are less likely to be bad guys if you look like you know where you are and where you’re going.

Pretending to be someone who has their shit together can be a great safety net when you’re lost or find yourself in a risky part of town. Try not to leave Google Maps open on your phone or spend too long staring at a tourist information board. Better yet, give someone a call and walk casually on the phone until you reach a safer place.

Always send someone your cab driver’s ID number

Every legitimate taxi you ever get into will have the ID numbers of the cab and driver on display and, when ordering an Uber, you’ll get your driver’s name, license plate number and car model before jumping in.

While in 99 per cent of cases nothing bad will happen to you, it doesn’t hurt to jot down all the information you have, including where you’re going to and from, and send it to a friend. If binge watching Law and Order: SVU has taught us anything, it’s that you can never be too cautious when getting in a car with a random stranger at the wheel.

Do. Not. Dawdle.

This one seems obviously, but there are thousands of people in every city around the world who have apparently never experienced the rage that builds inside of you when you’re stuck behind someone walking at micro speed on a footpath. 

People in cities are busy and some probably haven’t had the best day, so it’s a good rule of thumb to stay out of everyone’s way before getting yelled at in front of a crowd of people. Trust me, it ain’t fun.

Penny Robinson

Penny is a Philosophy and Media and Communications student at the University of Melbourne. She enjoys travelling, snacking, and not going to the gym.