My personal recommendations to adjusting from being a local in your hometown to a tourist in a new land.
During dead week, March 10-14, seven members of The Clackamas Print took a trip to New York City to participate in a college media conference. As one can imagine the adjustment from living in the Portland area to spending the week in New York was quite a shock for everyone. Based on the experience of this trip, I made a short list of recommendations on how to enjoy being a tourist when you come from a tourist town.
Let yourself become a tourist
The fact is you are tourist and there is nothing that can be done about it so embrace this fact and enjoy the trip. The sooner this happens the better the trip becomes. This does not mean becoming the obnoxious tourist that locals and fellow tourists hate. You know, the one with the selfie-stick.
Take pictures, keep stuff and buy souvenirs
Just think how many photos have been taken at the place you are visiting. Now think how many of those photos have your beautiful face in them. Your family and friends want to see you enjoying the place you visited. Capture your trip because there is no shame in that. Did you go somewhere that you bought a ticket for? Save the ticket. Did you pick up a map of the city? Keep the map. These small things in their own way are souvenirs so keep them. Don’t feel stupid going into the gift shops to buy souvenirs especially if the person you’re buying a souvenir for is you.
Go sight seeing
If you didn’t know, many large cities offer large group sight seeing tours you can pay to go on. This doesn’t mean you have to join a sight seeing tour. Instead think of at least five places you would like to see and go there during your trip. This way can also be free or cheaper than a group tour.
Local places are the best places to eat in your hometown. It’s no different anywhere else. Just now you have to go find them. Don’t settle for a chain restaurant even if they are easy to find and provide a similar feeling to home.
Appreciate the differences
What can you do there that you can’t do in your hometown? While some differences maybe negative for you don’t let them write off the place you’re visiting. Spending the whole trip comparing the place you’re visiting to your hometown will only make you homesick and create a lousy trip. Focus on the good and unique things the place has to offer because this is only a visit and you will be going home in no time.
How did The Clackamas Print feel after arriving in The Big Apple? We hated it! We hated New York so much that the group consensus was, “We miss Portland. @#$! New York!” If we weren’t a bunch of broke college students, we would’ve flown back to Oregon that day.
After I started doing these five things, I found my trip to New York becoming very enjoyable. Visiting Central Park helped. Once I was able to get some space and see some vegetation, I was able to adjust and realize why people like The Big Apple. While Portland is a big city for Oregonians, New York really is a concrete jungle with lots of people and bad traffic. There is a history and lifestyle to New York that is incredibly different to Portland’s culture and it was an experience of a lifetime.