For that Eat, Pray, Love set, here are some things I’ve learned while living abroad, for better or for worse.
1. You will get fat.
…Or at least gain weight. Only Julia Roberts and Diane Lane can pull off gallivanting across exotic landscapes or the pastoral Tuscan countryside for months on end, all the while looking like an ad for yoga pants. A fitness plan is crucial. Make it a game! Try creating CrossFit: Children’s Jungle Gym or, like, CrossFit: Parking Lot of the Hostel. Or hedge your bets with CrossFit: Food Poisoning.
2. Language WILL be a barrier.
Obviously I’m talking about foreign languages here. Unless you’re fluent in the language of the country, get used to struggling with everything. If you’re an extroverted and gregarious (read: overbearing and needy) person like me, cutting your means of expression down by 90% is the equivalent of consistently stifling every sneeze. And if you’re one of those people who can “just, haha, pick up the language from movies and TV,” please line up for a punch in the neck.
3. You will likely not have a meet-cute with the love of your life in a charming spice market.
Unless your version of a meet-cute is Tindering in another country, the odds are strongly against you on this one. You won’t accidently drop your wallet, chase the loveable street urchin who took it, and collide adorably into a statuesque dreamboat. But, you may have a meet-cute with someone you’re apathetic about who ends up stalking you on social media! (Seriously, do you have to like every picture??)
4. You will begin to crave structure.
No matter how Type B and laissez-faire you think you are, you can only twirl through a meadow in the Alps, arms akimbo, for so long before you start to unravel at the seams. Ever-changing class schedules, long nights, time changes, and arbitrary hours of business are like the spicy fire sauce of an insanity burrito that is your life…or something. Think about it!
5. The stupidest things will make you homesick.
Stepped in water while wearing socks? Oh man, remember when you totally did that same thing and you were late to work already? Haha, boy were you creative with the expletives that morning! *Sigh*
(I got wistful reading an article of what type of party-goer each neighborhood bar in Washington, DC would be. Wistful. About bars.)
6. The stupidest things will make you actually sick.
You know what is a great way to spread germs? Kissing everyone’s face for each greeting and parting gesture! Social gatherings have essentially turned into key-parties of pestilence. After 3 colds in 3 months, I’ve starting just waving and then running.
7. You know what makes a good home decoration? Everything.
“Omg, I found the most adorable bottle cap behind the toilet in the bathroom of this bar! There’s a lion on it! I think I’ll hang it on my bedroom wall next to the beer coaster and the 2-year old faded poster for a gourd festival that I razor-bladed off the bus stop glass!” #nailedit
8. Literally everyone loves McDonalds more than you.
While, granted, there are probably fewer fried heads in the chicken nuggets, it’s actually seen as a legit place to have a meal. Like…during the day. WTF?
9. Somehow, the peanut butter will be awful.
Come on, guys, it’s like two, maybe three ingredients.
10. Coins. So. Many. Coins.
I feel like Scrooge McDuck with a giant burlap sack of metal every time I get change for 20 Euros. Or like one of those medieval nuns with the thousand iron keys clattering about her waist. (J/k, I don’t actually have money. Lolz!)
11. You’ll find that maintaining a sense of personal pride for your own country isn’t so bad, actually.
Yes sir, I’m really thankful for my culture sometimes, with true American icons like tacos and ramen, and IKEA!