From Portugal to Peru, here is what your Bristol year abroad destination says about you

Are you even on a year abroad if you don’t have ‘Bristol/ (location)’ in your Insta bio

Ah yes, the infamous year abroad and the year abroad students. Possibly even more insufferable than the gap yeah students. If, like me, you actually managed to secure a visa and jet off for your third year, you will have a lot of opinions on what a year abroad destination says about someone. From the tropical climates of South America to the concrete jungle of Paris, I genuinely think the location one chooses is as accurate a personality descriptor as the Myers-Briggs test.

From the comforts of my apartment in Buenos Aires, I will henceforth impart my judgements on all of you year abroaders.


“Ugh, Pari was simply magnifique.” Stop correcting me every time I say croissant. These students will love to tell you they went to Paris. If they haven’t whipped out a pack of vogues already, your diehard rollies friend will now insist they are firmly in their Lana Del Rey smoking straights-only era. Your housemates and your lungs might hate you, but at least you look so coquette-core. As much as I hate to say it, they are the best dressed of year-abroad students.

South America

Even years later you’re going to be clutching that UNIQLO cross-body bag tight to your chest because of that near-death experience where you nearly got robbed at gunpoint in the favelas (someone accidentally brushed past your bag in the street once and you freaked out).

You’ve also spent the last three months trying to convince yourself that you do enjoy hiking. It’s okay, you can get the bus to Machu Picchu, I won’t tell anyone you skipped the hike. I mean, come on, three days? That’s too much.

Yet again, another victim of the year abroad smoking pipeline but who can blame you when a pack of cigs costs the same as a Cadbury’s cream egg. These students will be found crying real tears when they go back to paying £10 for a double vodka mixer after living off $1 pints.


This is how the average conversation goes with a student who did their year abroad in Germany: “Ugh, the techno scene in Bristol just cannot compare to Berlin.”

“Oh, so did you go to Berghain?”

“… Well, no. But that was like… just far too cliché for us, I prefer somewhere more nuanced.”

They did not get let into Berghain and will soon be spotted in Lakota convincing themselves they love how sweaty and authentic Rumble in the Jungle is. Their wardrobe will exclusively consist of shades of black, almost black and dark black, topped off with some shiny reflective sports sunglasses.


You will desperately try to convince everyone that Portugal is just as cool as Brazil and you do not regret your decision (there are tears in your eyes). I mean, you’ve been to Notting Hill Carnival, how different can Carnaval in Rio be, right?

At least if you’re in Lisbon you’ll have the juiciest, fattest bum ever from trekking up and down those hills because you refuse to pay for the tram. You’re also kind of just like the cooler little sister to Spanish year-abroad students. “Also, it’s Lisboa, not Lisbon” – said every Portuguese student.


Although South America has been covered, whilst we’re on the topic of Brazil I might as well give these students a special mention. If you did your year abroad in Brazil you are the coolest. Sorry not sorry, Portuguese students.

Central America

You are the envy of all your friends and you know it. They hate you, I hate you. Look at you all smug, living on the beach with your one assignment for the semester and your 25-hour work weeks. In fact, you probably don’t even go to work half the time, which also applies to university attendance. The hardest decision you’ve made all week is which island you will hop to next. Your Instagram feed is to die for. I hope you get food poisoning from street meat.

Central America students are the laid-back ones, the ones who leave the assignment until the day before without batting an eye, the ones who insist “nah, we don’t need to rush, they never enforce last entry.” Going with the flow is the name of their game.


These students will have a great but the thickest Spanish accent you have ever heard. You are sick to death of the students who went to South and Central America asking why on earth you would choose to go to Spain over literally anywhere else in the world. Spanish is spoken in at least three different continents but you chose the blueprint. Nothing wrong with that though, you have your reasons.

I just know the visa process made you into a shell of your former self after you had to get your criminal record translated. Damn you, Brexit. These students thrive off the minimalist, clean girly aesthetic. You’re just here for the tinto de veranos, the tapas and the good vibes. I pray for your mates in Bristol when you refuse to leave behind the “only leaving the club at sunrise” mindset. I’m afraid the only place that is open until sunrise in Bristol is Antix and if you’re willingly stepping foot there please seek help.


… Why?


The average Italy year abroad student can be found overpronouncing every Italian word and insulting British takes on Italian food for the foreseeable future. Think Gino D’Acampo, but clutching a vape in a tiny scarf and Doc Martens loafers.

“Ugh, how can you even call this a carbonara, in Italy we-“. This is a Pizza Express, sit down and eat your dough balls. Don’t even get them started on coffee. The Italian and French year-abroad students often band together and can commonly be found between lectures huddled over a cigarette and complaining about being back in Ol’ Blighty.

Australia/New Zealand

How’s the quarter-life crisis treating you?

Any place that isn’t the country of the language you study

Russian students, I salute you. If you were unfortunate enough to be affected by global geopolitical issues and/or the visa office, you will list off the most obscure, tiny country and be greeted with “I didn’t know they spoke *that language*…” Neither did you until about 3 months ago. You spend half your days explaining where the country even is, and another lifetime complaining about the fact you didn’t get to go to your desired country. However, you are now an expert on this country, you could probably be their ambassador.

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