The 11 Types of People You Meet Studying Abroad and The Mostly-Drunken Lessons They Teach You
As I write this, it's been about six weeks since I packed my bags, hopped on a plane, and landed, delirious and bleary-eyed, in Prague, Czech Republic, for three months of studying abroad. The time that's gone by so far has been a total whirlwind; between exploring the city, starting classes, and gorging myself on as much goulash soup and Pilsner beer as possible, the days have been flying by with alarming speed. And, of course, there's been the process of adjusting to living abroad with other students in a dorm, which is turning out to be a lot more interesting than I ever could've expected.
Because in addition to coordinating shower schedules and figuring out who's blasting Kanye at four in the morning, living in a dorm has opened my eyes to how many different types of people come to Europe to study abroad. The fact that my program's not specific for any one major makes the mix more eclectic than most, but for anyone who's studied abroad, there's a good chance you've encountered at least a couple of these groups during your time overseas — and that they've taught you a lot along the way. Here are the 11 types of people you can expect to meet while studying abroad and what they will help you learn.
The One Who's Not Here to Make Friends
What They're Like: This person has no interest in participating in the program they're in. They forgo school trips, hate organized activities, and still haven't learned the names of their fellow students one month in. They tend to be pretentious, obnoxious, and "not really feeling it" most of the time.
Sample Conversation: "I don't really do group things, you know? All those people, man."
What They Teach You: There's nothing wrong with doing things on your own while you study abroad. But ignoring your classmates and not attending group activities just because they're group activities? Pointless, rude, and, most likely, reason for regret.
The One No One Can Ever Find
What They're Like: This person does not sleep, eat, or communicate like a normal human being. They're too busy running around the city and exploring its most far-flung corners at all hours of the day. They come home late at night, still full of energy and stories about everything they did all day while you were "busy" taking a three-hour nap.
Sample Conversation: "You guys know that market that's three trams and two metro rides away? Wait, you haven't been there yet? Let's go! RIGHT NOW."
What They Teach You: Make the most of your time abroad — you can laze around and watch Gilmore Girls back in America. That said, sleep is important.
The One Who Came Totally Unprepared
What They're Like: This person is lucky they even landed in the right country. They packed a week's worth of clothing, still haven't bought their return ticket home, and tend to be late to the game when it comes to planning trips, organizing schedules, and generally knowing what's going on.
Sample Conversation: "Hey, do you have an umbrella I could borrow? Or a raincoat? Or a sweater with a hood?"
What They Can Teach You: You know how you made fun of your mom for stuffing Ziploc bags and travel-size toothpaste into your suitcase even though you told her they were unnecessary? Thank her. A lot.
The One Who Has Unlimited Money
What They're Like: This person wants to travel everywhere. Paris? London? Morocco? Nothing's too far or expensive for them, because money is just not an issue. You get the picture when they go out to dinner for the sixth time that week and book flights to Asia because they're bored in class. Their bank accounts get magically refilled, and the idea of budgeting expenses is met with an overly-enthusiastic "good for you!"
Sample Conversation: "I kind of want to go to Portugal this weekend. Do you think flights are still available? I'm just so tired of taking trains all the time."
What They Teach You: Dream big —if there's any time in your life that it's okay to spend half your savings, study abroad is it. Still, be reasonable. You're going to have to be a real person soon, and even the budget-free are going to have a tough time with adulthood.
The One Who's Really, Really Excited to Be Here
What They're Like: This person is SO excited to be studying abroad that they can't stop telling you and everyone else they know about everything they see/do/overhear, because isn't it all just AMAZING?! They just CAN'T get over how CRAZY it is that they're here, and even when several weeks have passed and everything's calmed down, they're still freaking out over every little thing because it's all just SO incredible, you know?
Sample Conversation: "Can you believe we live here?! I just cannot get over it! Wait, can you hold my bag so I can take a selfie?"
What They Teach You: They may be annoying, but they're not wrong: Studying abroad is awesome, and you should be grateful you're here.
The One Who's Always Down to Party
What They're Like: This person is always eager to go out, regardless of day, time, or consumption of alcohol the night before. They know which stores sell the cheapest rum, what clubs to go to on a Monday night, and exactly how many shots of absinthe they can have without being hungover for that 9 a.m. class.
Sample Conversation: "Does anyone want to go out tonight? No? Oh, Wednesday. Homework. Right. Wait, you do? Okay, I'll be ready in five minutes!"
What They Teach You: You're only here for three months, your "classes" are jokes, and it'd be silly to not wear those heels you finally managed to fit in your suitcase, right? Live it up — just maybe not on the nights you have a midterm due at midnight, yeah?
The One Who Hates Everything
What They're Like: This person is bored. All of the time. No matter where they go or what they do, they look like they want to die. Are they homesick? Shy? Just rude? Who knows. You've given up trying to get them to appreciate Europe, and instead have gotten used to them looking like Grumpy Cat in the background of every group photo.
Sample Conversation: "It's okay, I guess."
What They Teach You: Other people's moods are not your problem.
The One Who Wants to Hook Up With All of Europe
What They're Like: This person is just here to have fun — and for them, fun means making out with random European guys every time you walk into a club, the more foreign the better.
Sample Conversation: "Dammit, I think the Swede saw me dancing with the Norwegian. Do you think he'll care?"
What They Teach You: There's absolutely nothing wrong with having a little — or a lot of — fun. But, in my mom's wise words before my departure, "don't be an idiot."
The One Who's Constantly Homesick
What They're Like: This person refuses to adjust to living abroad, no matter how much time has passed or how annoying everyone else is starting to find them. They really miss their significant others, are addicted to their phones, and can't stop comparing everything they do or see to their hometown equivalent. At night, they are likely to be found either going through photos or Skyping their cats.
Sample Conversation: "This restaurant looks just like the one my boyfriend took me to for our anniversary last year, but, like, not as nice. God, nothing is the same here, is it?"
What They Teach You: Send a few postcards and miss Chipotle with all the passion you can muster. Otherwise, spend your time in more productive ways — namely, falling in love with the new city you're in.
The One Who's Practically Already Moved
What They're Like: This person has every intention of moving out of America the moment they finish college, and they're not wasting any time getting ready. By week three, they've mastered the language, made friends with locals, and have gotten called out as a foreigner exactly zero times.
Sample Conversation: "Isn't it fun to see how long you can go speaking Czech without messing anything up? My record's only ten minutes so far, but that's just because I've been busy learning Polish, too, just for fun."
What They Teach You: Don't be a tourist — acclimate to your new surroundings by learning more than just how to say "beer."
The One Who's Just Like You
What They're Like: This person may be from a totally different school, city, and major, but when it comes to what you want out of studying abroad, you're on the exact same page.
Sample Conversation: "Do you want to be productive all day, then come back and nap, then go grab dinner, then go to the bar, and then get burritos at 2 A.M. before we go back and watch reruns of Gilmore Girls? Cool, me too."
What They Teach You: You'll share some of the best memories of your life with the friends you make here. Enjoy it.
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