5 TOTALLY Redundant Life Lessons I Learned From Study Abroad


1. Non English Speakers are super annoying in every country

So, I went to France and studied in Marseille. But, like, I only did French for four years. I’m not fluent or anything, obviously. But the whole time I was there people would just come up to me and start talking in French. I tried to explain, really slowly, that I. Don’t. Speak. Much. Francaise. But they would just still talk to me in French and not even bother switching to English. Like, hello? Can you not see the American pin on my lapel? Or the USA flag on my backpack? I mean, I know they have a reputation for being rude, but this was really ridiculous.

2. In France, they have croissants for breakfast

Like, there is no “right” or “wrong” way to live, in my opinion. “Normal,” is totally relative. Like they have weed in Amsterdam, because it’s basically communist there. But for them it’s normal, even though it clearly is not. Same in France: everyone has pastries for breakfast. That is seriously carb overload. There is so much sugar in a croissant, they must all seriously have diabetes or something. But for them that’s normal? But normal, clearly, can be wrong when, like, it affects your health as a scientific fact. So, you know, try an egg or whatever.

Also, I travelled to Spain and Italy and they also eat so much crap. Like, good luck trying to find a juice bar for a kale and celery detox juice. The best I could do was Starbucks, and thank god I they have them in almost every city. I think I have a natural 6th sense for finding them. Like, in Prague, I found this Starbucks in this amazing old building right next to this adorbs crazy clock. Super convenient. Like, Europe have definitely got something right if you can be in Starbucks but also in a historic building. They even do the skinny hazelnut lattes that are my absolute favourite. Such an amazing experience.

3. They still print maps on paper

Luckily, my dad paid for me to upgrade my iPhone data plan to the international version, so I always had google maps to direct me all over. But I saw this totally cute couple holding this paper map in Barcelona. They fully had put little marks on it and were looking for like street signs and stuff. And then the guy, in Spanish, asked someone for directions! My iPhone died that day, and when I asked a lady to direct me to the Barcelona Church she was, like, super rude. I mean, it’s a famous church, right? How hard is it to just like point towards it.

4. I made friends for life

I met these other American girls, and they were so nice. Cassie or Christie and Shauna. Like, so nice. We talked all night. And they were really good at doing Tequila slammers, because we can drink in Europe when we are 19, so we drank a lot. We also danced a lot at so many night clubs. The Europe clubbing scene is super international. Like really chic. Guys are not shy either; they just grab your ass there. It’s all tres European. But then one night Cassie got with this guy that had grabbed my ass first. I was like, excuse me bitch? We had a tiny fist fight and both started crying in the club. But these two guys came over and bought us drinks which was so nice and European of them. So Cassie and I are best friends again. We just have so much in common, she is like my #soulsister.

5. I’m a totally new person

So I have new hair and new clothes and basically a whole new attitude. I used to just like study and drink and had all these fake friends. But now, I’ve had this cultural experience. I feel so different. I have seen so many things and met so many new people who are so different to me. Like Cassie is Jewish, for example, and Shauna is already twenty-two. It’s amazing we still found a connection despite our differences, you know? I’m a better person. I know not to mix drinks now. I know that if my friend offers me a pill I shouldn’t just take it because I might end up in an alleyway in Greece throwing up for nine hours. Exchange has changed me, for the better. I’m ready to take on the future with everything I’ve learned.

image – Luke Durkin