Big Ben and Westminster Abbey on the Thames River in London.
Quite simply, nothing will ever compare to your semester abroad. Returning to campus isn’t nearly as thrilling as that weekend in Paris. Classes with Americans just aren’t as exciting. And, let’s be real, everything is just a little less awesome now that you’re not in Europe.
Needless to say, study abroad will change your life (while simultaneously draining your bank account). When it’s sadly time to readjust to America, reverse culture shock can be rough. Some days you just wish you were back in your study-abroad locale of choice. Don’t worry, though, you’re not alone.
And while I realize that this is quite possibly #FirstWorldProblems at its worst, let’s take a few minutes to indulge. Anyone else who has ever studied abroad in Europe can relate, but these are the top 10 things that I miss the most.
1. Well-dressed people (especially the guys)
What’s not to love about a place where all the guys dress like they’re in One Direction? Initially, I wasn’t so keen on the whole “men-rocking-infinity-scarves” thing (and occasionally handbags nicer than mine). Four months later, I have to admit, it grew on me — minus the man purses.
Now, walking to class surrounded by guys in sweats that are two different shades of grey and girls in leggings and UGGs, I long for the well-dressed Brits in three-piece suits I commuted with on the Tube.
Stylish men of Europe, you are missed.
2. The accents
Oh, the accents. British, Irish, Danish, French. You name it, I love (and miss) it.
3. Jetting to other countries on a whim
When else in your life can you just casually convince your friends to accompany you to Bornholm, Denmark, for the weekend? StudentUniverse.com, EasyJet and Ryanair, I blame you for teaching me that I can have budget-friendly adventures at the drop of a hat.
Now back at school, I’m lucky if I can find a bus out of State College, Pa. — let alone anywhere exciting.
4. Using “I’m American” as an icebreaker
It’s not nearly as charming back home.
5. The shopping
Aside from the fabulous Euro designers and retailers that simply don’t exist in America, nothing tops European student discounts. Most stores seem to understand that university is expensive … and so are cute clothes. My favorite stores abroad often had 15%- to 20%-off student discounts. Amazing.
And £5 ($7.75) cardigans at Primark, I think I miss you most of all.
6. Nobody knows you
There’s an incredible sense of freedom that comes from knowing the expiration date on your life in Europe. Need to run through the airport to make your flight? Do it. Want to stalk Annie James’ house while reciting lines from the Parent Trap right in front of it? Go for it (I promise you, that one is 100% worth it).
Europe is the perfect place to let your freak flag fly. Dare I say, YOLO.
7. Even better Groupon deals
From cheap eats to cake-decorating classes to last-minute trips to Paris and Amsterdam, you name it, there’s a better Groupon for it in Europe. I even took a fascinator-making class at a millenary (who knew that even existed?).
8. Stories of spontaneous adventures
When you’re abroad, impromptu adventures are the norm and spontaneity is a way of life. This semester, I completely miss being able to respond to “How was your weekend?” with things like “I just spent the morning in the Alps!”
One of my favorite memories from last semester was the time my flat-mate and I read about a concert on Twitter while we were in Dublin — and proceeded to buy tickets for it on the spot (like we had any idea who Bressie even was?). That night we were introduced to the world of Irish pop at its finest, and it was one of the best times I had abroad.
I mean, really. I love you, America, but you just can’t top that.
9. The culture
Even the most mundane activities abroad suddenly seem so intellectual and sophisticated, simply because you’re doing them in Europe. Popping over to Marks & Spencer for a baguette isn’t just grocery shopping — it’s an experience. On any given day, there’s an absolute world of culture at your fingertips.
10. Amazing public transportation
While I don’t for a second miss my hour-long commutes to work and university, there isn’t a day that goes by when I don’t miss the Tube. Europe has fabulous public transportation in almost every major city you’re likely to visit. It’s always relatively easy to understand, budget friendly and you meet some pretty memorable people on the metro.
And now that we’ve reminisced, I guess the only thing left for me to do is finally muster up the strength to change my current city on Facebook from London, England to State College, Pa. Or, you know, leaving it the same works, too.
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