Normally, I’m not the biggest fan when it comes to talking about feelings. But, I think it’s good to show being abroad isn’t all sunshine and pub crawls. It’s an extremely emotional experience, and if you have any issues when you leave, they don’t just magically disappear on arrival. So, here are some tips I think could help make your time abroad just a tad bit easier.
Disclaimer: I am not an expert at anything other than naps and getting overwhelmed during everyday activities.
1. Do NOT force yourself to go, go, go.
Take that five hour nap. Watch a whole season of that tv show you love. Stay in your apartment for a full day. It’s fine.
This is 100% the biggest mistake I’ve made so far. Everyone tells you studying abroad should be “the best experience of your life,” or my personal favourite “go everywhere, see everything!” First off, studying abroad should just be an experience. Not the best, or most amazing. That’s way too much pressure to put on one small portion of your existence. Most of us who are studying abroad are only around 19-22 years old. Hopefully we’ll have quite a bit of time later in life to have other, better, experiences. Life isn’t perfect, this is no exception.
Secondly, you can’t do everything. No matter what anyone tells you. You will crash and burn. Just like I did in Berlin; I had to cut the trip a day short because of how mentally and physically exhausted I was. Do not let others pressure you into doing too much. You know what you can handle, do that and you’ll be a thousand times better off.
2. Look up concerts and sporting events before you leave.
I’m so angry at myself for not doing this.
I could’ve seen Ed Sheeran in concert, and attended an Ireland v Italy rugby match. (Ireland dominated 26-3). Both of these happened 20 minutes from my residence. I know concerts and sports aren’t the most important things to worry about, but they sure are fun. So, a couple months before you leave, just check the venues around where you’ll be living; if you’re going to Europe just check the whole continent, flights can be pretty cheap.
3. Be a tourist.
Take the dumb picture. Bring your selfie stick. Eat at the restaurant right across from the Pantheon.
No matter how hard you try, you will stick out. So, re-enact Roman Holiday, strike that Lizzie McGuire pose, because those are the pictures you will look back on and treasure most. Be dumb, get lost, just don’t be rude. And please, for the love of God, do not start chanting U S A, because I will personally appear and smack you in the face.
4. Please don’t climb onto the side of a bridge.
You’re going to fall.
The first night, FIRST NIGHT, some dumbo did exactly this. Ended up in the hospital, seriously injured, and had to be flown home. If you think you might do this please do the world, and yourself, a favor and stay home. Play assassins creed on your xbox or ps4 instead. That way both you and the bridges stay safe. Leave the parkour to the professionals
I-can’t-believe-I-have-to-say-this DO NOT LET YOUR DRUNK FRIEND/ACQUAINTANCE/ROOMIE WALK HOME BY THEMSELVES AT ANY TIME OF THE DAY.
Tape this to every window/mirror/refrigerator because I cannot stress this enough.
I don’t care if it’s 2pm, and it’s only a block from where you live. It’s dumb and irresponsible to let someone stumble off on their own. Because in the end, if something happens to them it’s always going to come back to haunt you. Take the time to walk them home. No exceptions. Drink responsibly kids.
Last, but not least:
6. Dance like there’s no tomorrow.
Because discos/clubs are a thing.
If you’re going to look like a fool, might as well go big. My all time favorite dance moves are the ‘stand and nod,’ followed closely by the ‘mermaid out of water.’ I was a drum major for three years, and played the clarinet for eight; I know what a beat is. But, whenever a dance floor appears it’s like the tiny people in my head press a big red button labeled ‘NO MOTOR FUNCTION.’ So, if you’re like me, the best way to combat this is to either A) attempt to look cool, or B) do whatever the heck you want. Option ‘B’ is always more fun, believe me. It’s going to be humiliating and you may lose a few friends. But, if they can’t handle you at your ‘flailing like a deranged squid’ they don’t deserve you at your ‘slightly on beat swaying.’
What I was trying to get at in this post was, don’t take everything too seriously. Do what makes you happy. But, at the same time, don’t be a fool. Find your balance and rock it. As the sun goddess, Amy Poehler*, would say “You do it because the doing of it is the thing. The doing is the thing. The talking and worrying and thinking is not the thing.”
*Shameless plug to get all of you to buy Amy’s book Yes Please. Do it. I dare you.