Your Year Abroad: Expectations Versus Reality
A year abroad is supposedly the best experience you’ll ever have. You’ve heard rumours of fresh croissants for breakfast in Paris, envisaged yourself becoming a pro-surfer in Australia, and you can’t wait to update your Facebook location to “Rome, Italy”.
Unfortunately, there’s a lot more to your year abroad than what you’ve been promised. Thought it was going to be the perfect dream? Think again.
You’re going to make loads of cool, foreign friends
Who needs your boring home friends when you have all these interesting French people to hang out with at the Sorbonne? Plus, it makes so much more sense to exclusively hang out with native speakers, because then magically (and impressively) you’ll become fluent in the language.
Reality: foreign people don't actually like you
Whoops. You can’t wait for your home friends to come and hang out.
You quickly realise that people already have their own friendship groups, and they don’t need a temporary, year-long friend who can barely speak their language to join their clique.
Instead, you become overwhelmed with excitement as soon as you hear somebody speaking English, and you always run to the nearest pub-esque drinking establishment.
You’re basically going to be a native speaker at the end of the year
Naturally, you are confident you’ll be fluent in the language of your new home. Watching Amélie in A-Level French that one time was definitely enough preparation.
In fact, you’ll probably even forget how to speak English by the end of the year.
Reality: nobody ever understands you
And this isn’t just because of your poor accent – you actually just make zero sense.
Reality eventually hits you: becoming fluent in a language is hard. At first, you’ll try to make sense of all the grammar and try to improve your accent, but then you’ll just give up and stick to pointing to things on the menu instead.
Your love life is going to be amazing
You are going to date so many exciting new people. After all, foreign boys and girls are far more alluring than British ones.
Will you be able to make long-distance work when you return home? I guess you’ll just have to cross that bridge when you get to it.
Reality: you only attract creeps
You will get leered at by all the creepy men, but nobody normal will ever ask you for your phone number. Single for another year it is then…
You’re going to be so cultured
You’re going to visit every single corner of your new city, and then some! There’s so much more to Paris than the Eiffel Tower, and you’re going to make sure you find it all. No street will be ignored; there’s history everywhere!
Reality: you're too tired
You go outside the said location and take a picture, then decide you’ve had enough of being Dora the Explorer for the day. Of course, you’ll post your pics on Instagram with the location tagged, waiting for the likes to roll in. What your fans don’t know won’t hurt them…
You’ll also explore everywhere else in the world!
Why stop at seeing the sights in your city? EXPLORE! Take a cheap flight, it’s only €20 to the other side of Europe. Vive L’EasyJet!
Reality: you're too poor
You’ve hit the biggest financial low of your entire student life. Your Erasmus grant barely covers your shoebox of an apartment, and you’ve spent 80% of your student loan on baguettes and overpriced cocktails.
Expectation: you will only eat the cuisine of your new city
No other food will suffice. You must have the true culinary experience while you can.
Reality: you'll eat the cuisine once
You’ll have your snails and onion soup a grand total of once. After that, the one Dominos in the whole town and that lovely Italian at the bottom of your road will be your most frequented dining establishments.
Your year abroad won’t change anything…
While really great, you don’t think it will change you at all, or impact anything else in your life.
Reality: you'll learn more about yourself than you originally thought
It may seem like a bunch of insignificant events all in the space of ten months, but you genuinely will have a year to remember.
So get out there, and enjoy yourself!