Welcome to Valley Overseas. We’ll hear from students exploring new lands full of strange customs, seemingly impenetrable language barriers, and Euro-trash. They’ll dish out the good, bad and the ugly of living in a home-stay, and the tales of discount airlines. From mixed-up vocab to drool-worthy people in fantastic fashions, let us show you the experiences of a lifetime.
Each person has a unique experience abroad, but somehow ends up meeting similar personalities. They’re all hilarious. Read on.
American college students: Most programs will place you within a comfortable bubble of Americans, whether from Penn State or around the country, to take classes and live with. Since you have the most in common, they’ll most likely become your best friends. This is useful for finding travel buddies and discussing common issues like culture shock and language struggles—or maybe just griping about the lack of D.P. Dough in Spain.
Other foreign students: Chances are, if Americans are coming to study in a certain city, so are people from other countries. You’ll find other international students at parties, bars and in your classes. Since they’re in the same boat as you, they’re some of the easiest people to befriend or, well, have a crush on. (Attractive Swedish guys? Check.)
America’s biggest fan: This guy or girl is. Just. So. Amazed. That you’re an American. “Bring me in your suitcase!” she’ll say as you smile politely. He or she will go on to reference favorite American TV shows, clothing brands and that dream trip to Los Angeles. You can potentially turn this person into an actual friend if you can get past superficial discussions of cultural differences (“Are they called Swedish Fish in Sweden? Do Belgians eat a lot of waffles?”). On the flipside, you may come across a Grade-A America Hater. In that case, good luck.
One-Time Friends: This happens at Penn State all the time: you meet someone at a bar or party, start talking and end up hanging out for the rest of the night. Except that this time, they might be from places like Switzerland or Brazil (like in the photo above), and instead of talking about last week’s football game, you’re discussing the higher-education system in Latin America or where real-Swiss people go to ski. Needless to say, this is fun. Bonus points if you can actually maintain that friendship after the sun comes up.
Locals: The most sought-after type of friend can also be the most difficult to make. While locals can help you navigate a foreign city and give invaluable tips, they won’t necessarily hang out at the same places American students do. Not to mention, they already have their own network of friends and family. But it’s possible. Just smile and say “bonjour.”