Rumor has it (queue Adele) that the deadline for studying abroad is coming up soon (Feb. 22)! Should you wish to forgo a semester of partying, late night pizza and the Allegheny advantage for another country? Well, if you are looking to learn any of these skills then we would highly suggest yes.
We are co-authoring this column as recent returnees from being abroad (Ashley from Mexico and Jackie from India). We have some crazy stories and lessons learned from being abroad and we are ready to share them. This column may feel exaggerated at times but trust us, the stories are real. And we have lived to tell them.
These are top 10 things you learn while studying abroad:
Navigation. While abroad you realize that the of use street signs or maps is optional for some infrastructures. Speaking of infrastructure: it does not always exist. You may have to adjust for warnings such as speed bumps every 10 meters instead of a speed limit.
How to be Insta-Famous. Marvel at some of the wonders of the world while also learning which Instagram filter looks best. Make all your friends who are stuck in the rain and snow jealous while you post pictures of ancient pyramids. Adept reaction skills. In India, Jackie learned the exact speed you have to run to escape wild monkeys that looked cute from afar. Mexico taught Ashley how fast cockroaches fly.
Bathroom radar. We learned how to spot a bathroom or a hidden area within seconds because when you HAVE to go (because travelers diarrhea is real) you learn that even ancient ruins can become the perfect spot to take a squat.
Toilet Etiquette. Did you know that you cannot flush toilet paper down all toilets? Neither did we.
The differences in chain restaurants. Comparing McDonald’s locations around the world will make you an international foodie.
How to handle undue attention. Everyone will stare and point but we quickly learned how to be confident and let the whispers slide off our backs.
How to trust. Google does not have all the answers, but the old woman on the corner probably does, and she can point you to the best taquería in the city or tell you how much your auto rickshaw should cost so you do not get ripped off. She might be a stranger, but she probably is more reliable than Siri.
Thinking in different languages. Ashley vivío en español (lived in Spanish) and Jackie delth with I no no word in inglish (Jackie learned broken English). You become OK with only understanding 60 percent of what is going on.
How to accept a new normal. Mexico and India were not easy to live in as 20-year-old women, given the harassment, sexism and corruption. Difficult adjustments aside we still miss miss eating with our hands and the nightly news aka gossip from our host moms.