The 13 People You Will Meet While Studying Abroad

450px-Base_of_Eiffel_Tower_at_NightWith many friends of yours – or yourself – embarking on an adventure of their lifetime, here, I, a study abroad returnee myself, will introduce 13 of the most typical categories of people one may encounter while being out of the country. Bon voyage!

1. The lovebirds

Either the couple has been together before the program started or just sort of hit it off on Day 1 and has been inseparable ever since. They are theoretically cute together but they can be the culprits as to why you feel extra lonely.

2. The (relative/friend of a) VIP

This person gets in to the most exclusive and coveted of places with a snap of a finger. This person could be an intern for a high-end retail store. I knew a girl from London who sat on the front row in several shows during London Fashion Week 2013.

3. The budget traveler

Armed with tested-and-tried battle plans and knowledge of a dozen discounted flight ticket websites, this one is a keeper if you are on a budget but refuse to let the lack of money limit the quality of your trips.

4. The star-struck

I knew one girl who managed to capture Justin Bieber leaning against a hotel balcony on her iPhone camera and another who went to the London premiere of Oblivion and kissed Tom Cruise on the cheek. My belly dance instructor in London also snapped a photo of Jay-Z riding the tube one day before the incident made headlines.

5. The model student

This person knows that even though the program you are on takes place abroad (hello, weekend trip to Ibiza!), it is still an academic program and your classes still count toward your GPA. They attend classes diligently and on top of that, go to club meetings and even lead the e-board for the duration of their stay.

6. The already-an-international-student-in-the-States-but-came-to-study-abroad-anyways

This category includes, among others, yours truly. These people usually have the been-there-done-that attitude toward the murky waters of visa applications. Internationals hate being collectively addressed as “our American guests” and having people assume they enjoy typically American stuff such as being taken to American-style diners once a week “so you feel more at home.” Excuse me, but a plate of mac and cheese doesn’t make me think of home.

7. The homesick

Homesick individuals find pleasure in locating foreign branches of stores from back home and lamenting how a cheeseburger in Euro is overpriced compared to ones in America. They can be anywhere in the world – Tanzania, South Korea, Hungary or France – but you only see them checking into Burger King, Domino’s and Starbucks on social media with hushtags #homesick and #sogladitshere. I’m not judging by the way.

8. The party animal

To this individual, anywhere without cover charge is a fair game to party it up and so is any day of the week. This person knows virtually all the hottest nightlife spots, drink deals and guest DJs and shows up in pictures posted on clubs’ websites. He or she is often heard saying, “Duuuuude, Shoreditch is the bomb, I’m telling you!”

9. The pilgrim

No, the pilgrimage is not necessarily a religious kind. The pilgrim here is more like a Beatles fan trying to re-enact the Abbey Road album cover photo (extremely dangerous!) and hopping onto a train to Liverpool. Because why not?

10. The art snob/Indiana Jones-wannabe

This person not only enjoys paying homage to the history of human civilizations and creativity but also insists on replacing the complimentary audio guide or a local tour guide by showing off how much trivia they have on the subject matter.

11. The shopaholic/hoarder

You know one when he or she brings an extra empty suitcase reserved for souvenir items. The shopaholic/hoarder buys anything from brand-name clothing items to Italian leather to South Korean skincare products. Duty-free malls? Bring it on. Flea markets and vintage fairs? Don’t even get me started. We are going there, hon, we are going.

12. The tourists group from your home country

You will be around among the most tourist-filled areas on earth, but somehow you just find the people from your home country talk the loudest, pick their noses the most often, take the most pictures and wear the ugliest clothes. Everything you think is embarrassing (Crocs, really?) and giving your country a bad name. Hence your overcompensation to your local friends.

13. The local

And last but not the least, the local of your study abroad destination. They tend to have the most comprehensive and nuanced answers to your rookie questions that can sometimes drive you nuts. Like their “Depends on what kind of beer you like” to your “What’s the best brewery I can go to in Munich?” The local is there to help you through the agonizing process of learning how to use public transportation and how to pronounce the name of your newly favorite dish right. The least you can do is learn how to thank them in the local language.

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