10 Things No One Tells You About Studying Abroad

Studying abroad while you are in college will be one of the most amazing experiences and opportunities you encounter in your life. However, when you arrive at your destination, you may encounter many things that no one warned you about. There is a lot of hype surrounding studying abroad, and despite the life changing experiences and great times you will have, living in a foreign country is never as glamorous as Instagram or the movies make it out to be.

1. There is basically no peanut butter in Europe. Do your self a favor and just forget about peanut butter sandwiches, smoothies, cookies and dipping sauces (yum). It’s almost impossible to find, and if you do find peanut butter it is most definitely going to be expensive. If you are really suffering without your daily fix of nutty deliciousness, try Nutella, which you can find basically everywhere in Europe.

2. Stores have different hours. Depending on the store and where you are living, you may not be able to get what you need from stores when you are used to getting it. Many stores don’t open up until the afternoons on the weekends, some stores close mid day for siesta, and generally stores in Europe close earlier than in the states. So be practical and plan readjust your late-night ice cream craving to the store hours.

3. Laundry can be a nightmare. From trying to figure out the labels on the washing machines to finding that there are no dryers, doing laundry is a struggle. Once you get acquainted with the ways people dry their clothes and different washers, however, you shouldn’t have a problem.

4. The paperwork is extensive and tedious. From visas and medical clearances to health insurance and proof of address in your new country, there are a million forms you have to fill out, mail, and hand deliver. Keeping everything together in a folder will make your life 100 times easier, even though you will probably still be drowning in papers.

5. Netflix in Europe sucks. In Europe, you will never find out what happens to Rory Gilmore after she graduates from Yale or if Rachel gets off the plane or not. Basically, unless you are interested in re-watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer or Gossip Girl (again), Netflix is seriously lacking compared to the American Netflix. It may be time to put that Kindle your dad gave you for Christmas 3 years ago to use.

6. You will get sick. It doesn’t matter if you’re abroad for 6 weeks, 6 months or 6 years, walking and traveling everywhere in varying weather conditions will lead to sore throats, colds and headaches. Even though you will want to do everything you possibly can while you are abroad, make sure you leave time for yourself in between studying and partying and invest in some vitamin C. Your body will thank you for it.

7. No matter how many likes your latest Insta gets, people are going to complain about you at home. There is no way to avoid it: people get tired of seeing all the amazing places you have visited and become jealous that they are not there with you. However, this is no reason to stop ‘doing it for the Insta’. Just try not to overload your followers with your amazing memories from abroad and please, no “my school is better than your school” captions.

8. It’s sometimes hard to get everything you need, especially if you planned on buying a lot of stuff once you arrived. You will have to find proper stores, spend a lot of money on the items you buy, and try to carry everything back to your living accommodations. After multiple trips into town you will most definitely develop sore arms and will likely have forgotten at least one thing. If you really need something that you can fit into your suitcase, do it. It will make your arrival that much easier and leave more time to find your Paolo and way around.

9. Traveling around Europe is cheap, but the costs add up quickly. There is nothing more exhilarating than finding a flight to somewhere else in Europe for only 14 Euros. The bus to the airport, the taxi to the main city once you arrive, the hostel, the food and the tourist attractions will quickly add up though, making your trip total much more than 14 Euros. Budget in advance and make sure you save enough money to travel to the places where you desperately want to go AND make sure you can afford to get back after your trip.

10. You will sometimes get lonely and question your decision to study abroad. No one ever seems to talk about it, but it is totally normal. Being away from your usual way of life, your family, and your friends is a trying experience even for the most travel-savvy student. The good times come with bad, and no matter how homesick you may feel in the moment, when you look back on your experience you will not regret those few months spent independently. Study abroad is a once in a lifetime opportunity and despite its hardships, it is more fulfilling to travel than to play it safe at home.