Valley Overseas: Talking to Strangers

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.

I’m in week 14 of my study abroad experience—you’d think I’d have figured that out by now. But it began innocently enough in a bar in Brussels when a British guy at a nearby table overhead me chatting with my friend Krista.

“Hey, they speak English!” he said to his friend. Both of them turned to talk to us. “Where are you girls from?”

They were friendly college juniors just like us, and soon enough, our groups morphed together. The two guys introduced us to the rest of their friends—ten in all. After we all finished our drinks, they invited us out to a club with them.
Figuring we could ditch at any moment, Krista and I agreed.

At the club, the guys danced in a circle goofily and bought us an occasional drink. We tagged along while they asked us things like, “What do you think of Europe? Do you like this song? What car do you drive? Have you been to Canada? Who did you vote for?”

They were peppy, chatty and wore nice pants—like One Direction with twice as many members. And at the end of the night, they charmingly walked us back to our hostel.

In sum, they effectively proved they weren’t creepers.

We went out with them again on Saturday. Since Krista and I came to Belgium as a group of two, we appreciated having a larger crew to party with. At the end of the night, we were about to begin the 30-minute walk back to our hostel when a guy named Connor said, “Just stay in our hotel. We have a spare bed. I promise we’re not shady or anything.”

It was true. He wasn’t shady.

But there was no bed. Maybe they thought their roommates would stay out all night. Maybe they thought that if they got us to their hotel we’d make out with them or something. What actually happened was that we all made fun of each other’s accents until about 5 a.m. when we collectively passed out—four people on one double bed.

I woke up sore, sweaty and sleep-deprived. I couldn’t turn over to get comfortable, because that would involve either bumping Krista to my left or shoving Connor on my right. Then Krista and I ended up having to make the 30-minute walk after all—at 8 a.m. in the pouring rain—but not before I fell on top of Connor as I tried to get out of that infernal bed. His final word to me was, “Smooth.”

“See you guys later?” he said to Krista as she opened the door to leave. Yeah, uh, no thanks.

We spent our final day in Belgium strolling through parks, visiting museums and eating out. And this time, we enjoyed being by ourselves. When we got back to France that evening, we were tired, sweaty and gross. But ultimately, my biggest issue that weekend was having to snuggle with a cute British guy. I’d say that means my trip went pretty well.

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