You’ve been abroad for 2 weeks now. The sites are beautifully historic. The people, mysteriously intriguing. The culture full of unlimited explorative possibilities. Then you find yourself, sitting shoulder to shoulder with three New Englanders, filling your hunger for new experiences with…a Big Mac. You my friend have fallen deep down into: THE COMFORT ZONE!!!
You had a plan. You were not just going to be a tourist. You were going to bring a hot European home to meet your parents. You were going to spend your days strolling with other Europeans through beautiful, historic gardens. Your nights would be filled with dancing, laughing and joking until the wee hours, only with foreigners. Now after settling in to your program, it is time to realize that the American friends you have made just will not cut it when it comes to living your abroad dreams. Don’t let yourself need a study-abroad-do-over.
In honor of every life-changing experience, we have compiled a few tips to distract your American peers, make international friends and prevent you from spending your semester in the United States of Abroad:
1. Always Be Out of Milk
Look for excuses to wander on your own. A lack of groceries always works. When you’re out, talk to anyone who will listen. Make friends with the local business owners in your neighborhood. Go several times per week and learn something new about them. Pub bartenders are usually young and happy to have a friendly conversation.
2. Practice your Southern Drawl
Internationals don’t like it when you try to imitate their accent but what they do love is trying to imitate yours. Be willing to listen and laugh along, but be warned, they think every American has a southern accent or is from Southern California.
3. Get your Dan Rather on
There is a general perception abroad that American students are oblivious to the state of the world outside the states. You can fully impress your new international acquaintances with some worldly current events. Think 4th grade social studies but at a bar. Pick up the local paper and flex your brain a little.
4. Not Your Mothers Student Union
American universities’ student unions are full of overpriced food and people studying. International university student unions have all that except they also have drinks and dancing. Most of these student unions have a Uni night where students come to hangout. Go there. Meet people a lot like you but from other places.
With these tips in hand it is time to stand up, leave the Golden Arches behind, make new friends and get really uncomfortable. Have any other tips to international friend-dom? Let us know.
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