An Open Letter to my Friends Studying Abroad

Hey.

You suck.

Because while I’m sitting in my 16 by 20 foot quad, and finding the courage to take on Jeff Hill, you’re where you are: in the beautiful, historical land of some distant city surrounded by a new culture that I may never experience in my lifetime.

But I do still have the Crystal….so who’s the real winner here?

No, you guys don’t suck. Yes, I do miss you; and yes, things aren’t the same, but for the best reasons possible.

No, you will not be going out with me to the Skull to be hit on by Santa, and no, we will not be getting crunk to Fetty Wap, but that’s okay.

Because guess what? Four months from now, when you guys return to good ole America, where McDonalds is made cheaper and Donald Trump is running for our President, I will still be here. Everyone who loves and cares about you will still be here.

For anyone out there who is studying abroad, remember these things:

Eat as much foreign food as possible. Because although you will be craving some Wendy’s chicken nuggets or a hearty American burger in the next few months, or weeks,  (unless you’re a vegetarian, then it looks like you’ve hit the lottery), all us sad souls in Athens won’t have the opportunity to try true Italian pizza, or a real Bratwurst, or Spanish cuisine.

Meet individuals who take you out of your comfort zone. I’m sure if you’re traveling abroad to a country whose main language isn’t English, you’re attempting to learn said country’s language more fluently. Meet individuals who challenge your language barriers, and then if you do make a great pal, ask them to teach you more about their culture. No matter what language your country speaks, cultures vary tremendously from country to country, individual to individual. Take this chance to learn from them (preferably how they cook so that you can come back and feed us all with your new skills..I mean, I personally wouldn’t object to food, who would?).

Take too many pictures. Things that you will be seeing everyday, some of us will never see in our lifetime. How does Austria look when it’s raining? Florence on a perfectly clear day? Everyone back here will not care how many times you take a photo of the same building; chances are we’re going to be memorized by every shot.

-Travel (although I’m sure I don’t have to say this twice, or even once for that matter). And while you’re traveling to even more amazingly cool places, take even more pictures. Seriously, just fill up memory card after memory card. And then spam Facebook. You know how relatives love Facebook.

-Don’t forget that we won’t forget. Guess who is still going to be the same person, in the same place, when you get back? Surprise! It’s everyone who loves and cares about you. All because we don’t get to see you everyday doesn’t mean you aren’t as important to us as when you got on that plane to start the most amazing journey of your life. We’ll just have a lot of catching up to do when you return, at your amazing welcome home party. Where we will sip on wine, eat Americanized pizza, and laugh at the same inside jokes that we were laughing about months ago.

And for anyone out there who has a loved one abroad:

-Support the shit out of them. Your sadness is completely, and totally valid. Thankfully though, you have all of your wonderful other friends to support you when the going gets tough. When the tears start running on a particularly drunken evening, and you start asking why your best friend left you for Iceland, that’s completely valid; but then once you sober up in the morning, remember that they need your support more than ever right now. They’re probably worried about a list of things including: ‘how do I break through the language barrier’, ‘boy I hope I don’t get lost and can’t find my way home because all these old buildings look the exact same on all the same looking fifty streets’, ‘what if i accidentally offend someone of another culture ‘, ‘I hope my friends at home don’t forget about me’, etc. You are their life line to their lives here – and that is an extremely trusted task. If they can do it, so can you.

To be cheesy, distance means too little when someone means so much. A semester abroad is the best thing any of my friends could have done, and I would give so much to take their place. I, personally, am looking forward to the many FaceTime dates ahead.

It’s not goodbye, but see you later.

 

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