In the weeks leading up to my departure for my semester abroad, I was absolutely terrified that I would spend the whole six months by myself. I was overreacting. Here are just some people in the crazy, eclectic group that you’re inevitably going to meet if you study in a different country.
The party person
The person who you can count on for a last minute invitation for a night out, and who knows where everything is happening on a Saturday night. This person travelled all the way to a different country for the purpose of discovering a brand new club scene and soaking it all up along with a good amount of local beer and spirits. Although you might have to hold their hair back a few times, getting drunk with someone is probably one of the best bonding experiences, so they will also become a really close friend. You get a brand new perspective of the city when you take the train home with them at 6.00am, watching the sunrise after a night of which you probably won’t remember much.
If you move in the same circles as a lot of other international students, whether you’re staying in international housing or studying the same subject as them, it is highly likely that you’re going to meet someone from the same country as you. It doesn’t matter if you like them or not as a person, you know that you can carry a conversation with them about the crazy differences between your home country and the one you’ve adopted. Hearing their accent might just send of a few pangs of homesickness as well.
Any local friends you make are worth their weight in gold, so hang on to them as much as you can. They will be a true font of knowledge on which you can rely. Their advice spans an incredibly range of seemingly random titbits including – but certainly not limited to – the best bars, the local alcohol habits, the cheapest supermarket, which tourist attractions that you can skip and the essential food experiences to really understand the beating heart of your chosen country. Plus, if you get moved to a better table in a restaurant because they can speak the local language with the chef, it’s an absolute bonus.
Studying abroad is hard. No matter what someone’s Instagram account says it is certainly not all sunny days riding bicycles and eating delicious pastries. There will be some times when homesickness will get the better of you, and when you just feel frustrated trying to deal with the unfamiliar. The therapist is the person you can go to who is experiencing exactly the same thing as you, and who will listen to and empathise with all of your rants. Guaranteed to make you feel better about what you’re doing, and all of the embarrassing cultural mistakes that you’ve made.
The fake one
OK, so this one technically can’t be counted as a ‘friend’. This is the person who seems incredibly friendly in the first few weeks of your trip, when everybody is still getting to know each other and conversation topics such as ‘where are you from’ and ‘what are you studying’ are suddenly the most interesting things on the planet. You meet them and seem to hit it off, even thinking, ‘wow, this person and I just click so well. New best friend alert!’ Suddenly, they drop you like a hot potato and you never hear from them again, because they’ve found much more exciting people to hang around with. It’s worth meeting him or her just to find out how much better you are without them around.
The bunk mates
If you’re doing a lot of travelling as part of your study abroad, particularly if you’re in Europe, you won’t have a choice when making friends in a hostel. Sleeping in the same room as a bunch of other people who are the same age as you lets you bond pretty quickly, especially if there are pub crawls and beer pong tournaments involved. These friendships are intense and short-lived, normally only lasting the days that your travel overlaps, but you can still meet some pretty interesting people while waiting in the line for the shared bathroom.
The hot one
Some would say that this one is the most important of all, because what’s a little travel without a little romance? Maybe they’re a local who just happens to confirm the entire romantic stereotype (tall, stylish, Italian stallion, anyone?) Or maybe they’re an international student just like you and this experience is the catalyst that was needed to throw the two of you together. This special guy or gal is the one that injects a bit of excitement into your day, and the return flight that you’ve already booked might just give you that extra push to live for the moment and do something about your little crush.