I’ve had the good fortune to have studied abroad twice during my college career, so I have a little bit of experience in the study abroad department. One thing I’ve noticed since arriving in Thailand is that there are quite a few similarities between the group of people in Thailand and the people I met in London, where I studied two summers ago.
There are always those people that take on a special role in your new abroad life, and they’re always the same, no matter where you’re studying. Without further ado, I present the five people you meet studying abroad.
1. The Mom
The Mom is the best. The Mom brought American Pepto-Bismol, Band-Aids and Neosporin to your country of study, and not only did she haul it 3,000 miles across the world, but she carries it all in her purse, everywhere she goes, 24/7, so she can be on call day or night.
The Mom is the responsible one who makes sure everyone in the group gets home safely, learns the language the best to ensure safe travel throughout the country and does extensive research on the best places to eat, cheapest places to shop, and has every edition of Lonely Planet ever published.
2. The Gay Best Friend
No study abroad experience is complete without the Gay Best Friend, who makes snarky asides yet astute observations about your new home country. And who inadvertently provides the most comic relief the first few days of your trip, when you’re still a little unsure about the whole “study abroad” thing.
The Gay Best Friend is great for deep talks while abroad, and is always there to give it to you straight. We all need that person to tell us if our elephant pants make us look fat, even in fantasy abroad-land.
3. The PIC
The PIC, or partner in crime, is essential to every study abroad experience, because it is this person who will be your wingman at the bar, your roommate on overnight academic excursions, your study buddy and the shoulder to cry on when you’re homesick or just plain sad about something.
The PIC will dance with you all night until they have blisters on their feet, will laugh with you harder than anyone else on the trip, and will be the closest thing you have to family while you’re so far from home.
4. The Fratstar
Often there is more than one of these, and they pretty much identify themselves as a Fratstar within the first five minutes of meeting them. The Fratstar is super fun to go out with at night, and they’ll usually buy you a drink or two, but the Fratstar isn’t studying abroad to “find himself,” so to speak, he’s studying abroad to rage abroad. This can be both good and bad.
5. The Hot Foreigner at the Bar
My personal favorite, the Hot Foreigner at the Bar, really rounds out every study abroad experience. The Hot Foreigner at the Bar could be a backpacker, expat, study abroad student, NGO volunteer, you name it, and whether this person is from Italy, the Netherlands, or China, they always have a fascinating story about how or why they’re traveling or living in your country of study.
The Hot Foreigner at the Bar almost always has a highly attractive accent, loves to dance and will introduce you to their all their other foreign friends, which makes for even more fun.
Keep an eye out for these people – maybe you already know them. Regardless of where you study abroad, these are common characters that will play some role, big or small, in your abroad experience. They’re not bad people to know when you get food poisoning, miss your best friend from home, or just need to make out with someone.
Peace, love, study abroad.