What your year abroad says about you
Please tell me more about your time in Rome
Whether you did it “for the culture” or your eyes just lit up at the Erasmus grant, where you decide to go for your third year is a big judge of character.
We all know you love talking about your year abroad – but what does your year abroad say about you?
The Parisian Hipstéur is the epitome of edgy, in a chain-smoking, vinyl-listening, dungaree-wearing, probably-studies-at-Bristol kind of way. They own five rollneck jumpers, all in varying shades of black, and the only music they listen to is by foreign DJs whose names you probably can’t pronounce. You want to hate them, but in truth you’re just jealous of the fact that their entire life could be an Instagram filter.
Although you’d never admit it, the only reason you went on a year abroad was to brag to your friends back home. So it was an obvious choice – Venice is one of the most Insta-friendly cities in the world, and provides plenty of pictures to put on your well-publicised blog. What you didn’t realise, however, is that there’s only one real bar on the whole island – and even if you wanted to go there, you’ve already spent your entire student loan on a single drink in St. Mark’s Square.
You love things to be idealistic, and want nothing more than to be like Audrey Hepburn in Roman Holiday. Perhaps this is why you thought your year abroad would be a postcard montage of romantic moped rides and late-night swims in the Trevi Fountain, ending in a seaside marriage to a hunky Italian. Instead, you stay at home most of the time because it takes so bloody long to walk anywhere, and you’re yet to meet any real Italians because there are so many American tourists around.
They’re all about art – they live it, they breathe it, and they worship it, even if they don’t fully understand it. Not one to feign ignorance on any matter, they’re sure that they can convince you of their wisdom by using vague Italian words, describing Florence as “bellissima” and everything else (literally, everything else) as “la dolce vita”. You won’t be getting a word in edgeways.
You want people to think that you’re all about culture, but everyone can see right through you. Despite the fact that your Twitter feed is full of musings on Gaudi’s architecture, your friends know from your drunken facetimes that Barcelona is basically a giant sweaty beach party with delicious tapas.
Anywhere else in Spain
You don’t really care too much about the whole “year abroad” thing, or “higher education”, for that matter. You just once half-listened to a tutor explain that the government would pay you £300 a month to go on holiday for a year. So what did you do? You picked a place where the average temperature is 25°C. You’re getting paid to spend a year on the beach while your friends at home slave away over your dissertation: you don’t know whether you’re a conman or a genius. It’s probably a bit of both.
This dude grew up on a diet of US college films: he’s been let down so far by the fact that his English University life hasn’t been anything like American Pie: Beta House, despite his noble efforts of getting shirtless and yelling loudly at every single pre-drinks. His passion for beer pong and red plastic cups has been met in the hallowed halls of California’s legendary frat houses, although he’s beginning to find that all the other Stifler-esque überjocks are infinitely more annoying in real life.
She wants her life to be like Gossip Girl or Sex and the City: hailing cabs in the rain, eating lunch on the steps of the Met and writing her blog on a Macbook in the nearest Starbucks. While the photos she uploads make it seem like this is the case, she’s really just spent an entire year confused and a little-bit terrified by the height of both the buildings and the prices.
The Toronto Snow Bro contemplated going somewhere in the USA, but he’s a bit too chilled out for that. Lucky for him, then, that everything in his vicinity is covered in eighteen feet of powder. The people are super friendly, and it gives him an excuse to grow out the mammoth beard he’s always wished for. Go for it – who’s going to judge, eh?
Rio De Janiero
They’re always the life of the party, but Britain just wasn’t big enough for them to spread their exuberant wings. It made complete sense to hotfoot it to Rio, party capital of South America, where they’re spending their days on the beach and their nights in the clubs. After all, people celebrate when you dance through the streets wearing nothing but feathers here – they had a much frostier reception at varsity last year.
Exposure to seedy 90s action films and a misinterpretation of Breaking Bad led to your misplaced belief that the entirety of South America is a magical kingdom where it snows a special kind of fairy dust. Culture isn’t of interest to you, and the locals probably aren’t your biggest fans. Needless to say you won’t be attending the Buenos Aires Jazz Festival, as you’ll be off looking for a different kind of bugle.
They’ve probably been to Hong Kong before in daddy’s private jet, but hey, a year out sounds cool and the InterContinental’s infinity pool is totes beaut. The rooftop party scene is buzzing, and the yacht cruises are out of this world – they’re having the time of their life, and posting hundreds of photos of it on Facebook to let you know. You’ll tell them you’re having loads of fun back at home – you both know that you’re lying.
The Sydneysider has simple tastes: Britain is great and all, but Sydney is like an alternative version where it’s hot all the time and the locals are good looking. Unfortunately you haven’t actually met any of them, as half of the British student population seem to have migrated with you. Oh well, at least your barbecues don’t keep getting rained off.
They’re a bit too hipster for Sydney, but not quite edgy enough to not want a solid tan. Melbourne is the perfect sneaky choice – less people have heard of it and Byron is near-ish, but they can still satisfy their mainstream side with a gleeful trip to Ramsay Street. And if that isn’t already exciting enough, Ko Phangan is just a short plane ride away.
Being alternative is their life – they’re rarely seen without their classic Walkman, and they’re almost single-handedly behind the bucket hat revival. What separates them from the Paris-bound Hipstéurs, however, is that they’re just here for the party. That’s why Berlin was perfect for them: a constantly pulsing techno haven that likeminded tourists can’t get enough of, and that actual Germans think of as some kind of confusing practical joke. They still haven’t got into Berghain though, and not for lack of trying.
They’re staunch, punctual and only here for one thing – the beer. Berlin, with all of its European eccentricities, was not even an option – they’re much more at home in Munich, washing down their weiβwurst with stein upon stein of Hofbräu and Paulaner. Little do they know that when they’re up against the real Germans at Oktoberfest, they’ll be passed out faster than you can say unabhaengigkeitserklaerungen.
The Reykjavik wildling hates people with a passion, and has found the whole “socialising” aspect of university pretty loathsome. If it was up to them they’d just pack it all in and live in a cabin in the woods, but unfortunately they know that someday you’re going to have to get a real job. So for this year at least they’ve decided to cut themselves off, and will be spending their time curled up by a hearty fire with a selection of the best Nordic literature that the bókasafnið has to offer.
Let’s be honest, you missed out on your first, second and third choice, and now you’ve ended up here. Hey, at least there are bicycles.