There are so many reasons studying abroad is life-changing, but it’s hard to argue that the friends you make aren’t at the forefront of that list. Every friend group is different, of course, but everyone has their own persona (even if it’s not on this list). Nevertheless, you can always count on your study abroad squad to teach you a few lessons.
1. The one who wants to walk everywhere.
A little bit about me: I stand on escalators, take Lyfts to places a mile away, and won’t go to the other end of the city unless I’m making an entire day out of it. Or, I used to. It’s not necessarily because I’m lazy, but walking everywhere takes a long time and makes my feet hurt. Public transportation has just always seemed easier. However, when you study abroad, there’s always that one friend who insists on walking, even if it’s four miles away. I was reluctant at first, but they taught me that — at least in London — in the time it takes to find the nearest Tube station in London, walk down the stairs and through all the hallways, wait for it to arrive, actually take the trip, only to exit the station and still have to walk to our destination, we could have been there already. Not only is walking a lot quicker, but it’s a way to get your exercise in and see more of the beautiful city you call home (for the time being).
2. The one who never has to budget.
Studying abroad is expensive, and most people can’t do everything they want. In my case, especially toward the end of my program, I started saying ‘no’ to most things, worried I wouldn’t have enough money to last me until I went home. But that doesn’t mean that’s true, or that you shouldn’t have fun! Some things are really worth spending the money on, and your friend without a budget is a good person to remind you of that.
3. The non-American one.
If you’re an American studying abroad, chances are you’ve made more American friends than foreign ones. When you first arrive, it’s just a lot easier to relate to someone who knows exactly what you’re going through. But that doesn’t mean you won’t find someone from another country who you enjoy spending time with just as much! This person will teach you so much about different cultures and traveling and things you didn’t even know you didn’t know.
4. The paranoid one.
Being in a foreign city can be scary in a lot of ways, and abroad, there’s always at least one friend to remind you of that. A lot of the time they’re being silly for not wanting to walk too late at night or go to a certain part of town, but sometimes we need that person to whip us into shape. Everything may seem new and exciting, but always ask yourself (or have your paranoid friend ask): Am I being safe right now?
5. The one who always wants to ‘go on an adventure.’
Picture this: You’ve had a full day. It’s bedtime. Everyone is already in their pajamas — except for the one friend who apparently never sleeps. Sometimes this can be annoying, especially if you’re tired and just want to curl up with Netflix and go to bed, but other times they actually convince you to get up. And you almost never regret it. It makes you more spontaneous and not take life too seriously. It’s about balance, people!
6. The foodie.
These. Are. The. Best. People. Going abroad is overwhelming mostly in that you want to do everything but don’t know where to start. I think I can speak for most people when I say that that applies to food. Where are the best restaurants? What should you even order? Luckily, everyone has the foodie friend who has either done extensive research on potential places or already has the best recommendations. These are good people to have around.
7. The experienced traveler.
For a lot of people, studying abroad is the first time someone has been out of the country. There are a lot of things to learn, and that’s where the experienced traveler comes in. It’s unlikely that everyone in your established friend group is completely new to traveling. Therefore, the inevitable experienced traveler is there to teach you everything you didn’t know. This doesn’t mean you won’t get lost once or twice, but it’s nice to have someone around who knows what they’re doing, especially if you plan your own trips.
8. The mom friend.
Oh, the mom friend. These exist in every friend group all over the world, but I would argue they’re the most essential when you study abroad. Being away from your family is hard, so you inevitably find yourself leaning on your friends for that same kind of support. The mom friend is who you go to for comfort and advice. They reassure you when you’re feeling sad and convince you to step out of your comfort zone. Bless their hearts.
9. The one who’s always taking pictures.
Some people can’t stand this. But who do they always go to at the end of a fun day when they have nothing to post on Instagram? That’s what I thought. And no, I’m not bitter. In actuality, there are times when you really should put the camera down to enjoy the moment, but at the end of your program or a fun trip, you’ll be glad to have these memories. If you’re not the photo-taking type, embrace your friend who is (if only to save phone storage space).
At the end of the day (or semester), you have every single person in your friend group to thank for making the experience unforgettable.