Are you ready for a clichéd post about how I found myself on my year abroad? I sincerely hope so.
Study abroad-ers have a reputation from getting back from their years abroad and being huge pompous twats about it, but to be fair to us, we have had just an AHHHHmazing time. After all, moving to a foreign country where you don’t know anyone and don’t speak the language (anyone two years into their language degree who tells you they can ‘speak’ French is lying) is a situation that many of us have never been in before. I promise, when people were telling us before we left that we were going to have a fantastic time and discover so much about ourselves, life and the universe, all we could do was smile and nod and promise ourselves that we wouldn’t be that douche-y when we arrived back home. But, as always seems to happen to me when I think I know better, I found out that they were right all along and now you have to endure me whining on about what I discovered on my year abroad.
So without further ado, here are 15 things I learnt on my year abroad.
- Folk music is good.
- Boursin is better.
- Martina pointed out to me how stupid it is that in England we still often have two taps, one scalding hot and one freezing cold, and to wash our hands we have to alternate between two streams of water. It blew my mind. There was me thinking that England had its shit together.
- People are basically good and nearly all of them are willing to help you.
- I apologise all the time for things I really don’t need to apologise for (like the weather, or my existence).
- People generally want the same two things: to be happy and to be loved.
- Beauty has surprisingly little to do with how you look, and is almost entirely based on things like how you carry yourself, how you treat people and what you say. It’s cheesy but it’s true.
- I need girlfriends in my life, like, all the time. I love girls. Girls are the greatest. Who run the world? Girls.
- Some stereotypes are based in truth.
- I don’t like forty degree heat.
- I like oysters even less.
- It’s true what they say: if you don’t ask, you don’t get (remember the ant infestation and the mouldy wall? Bad times).
An artist’s impression of my ant infestation
- I love France. I love Italy. And I especially love England, which came as a surprising discovery. I like the huge variety of food available. I love peanut butter (even though I feel like that’s probably American). I like the English language and how easy it is to make up words (like ‘hangry’) and how spelling has nothing to do with pronunciation (like ‘the river Thames’. Yeah, good luck foreigners). I like the people and how we’re so endearingly awkward, and how the height of anger is a strongly worded email or even, in extreme cases, a tut or an eye roll. I like how we’re so polite and instead of ordering “a coffee, thanks” as the Italians would, we have to say, “I would like a coffee please (if you’d be so kind, when you have a second, if you can’t do it right now that’s fine, no really don’t worry about it, I’ll just wait, no rush)”. I adore tea and I like it that we live in a climate where it’s not too hot to drink tea fairly regularly, even in summer. I even sort of like the rain, the classic drizzle that’s so quintessentially English. In Rome, it never drizzles, but instead rains so hard that you can barely see through it; but in England the drizzle is just sort of there as part of the scenery, like, “Oh gosh I’m terribly sorry that I’m here, don’t mind me, I’ll be gone in a minute, gosh yes what an inconvenience, oh my goodness did I get you wet? I’m so sorry, I’ll be gone in just a moment, just pretend I’m not here, oh I’m so sorry…”
- I also like UCL. There is a strong theory amongst many Paul Valèry and Roma III students that the whole year abroad was invented by UCL to make us more grateful for what we have. I like the professors who actually know what they’re talking about and who (often) reply to emails. I like the huge libraries that you can actually borrow books from. I like the lectures that start when they’re supposed to start in the place they’re supposed to be. I like the organization of the modules and timetables, whereby almost everything is available online and help is just an email away.
That’s all folks. I hope you enjoyed my vaguely related gifs.
See you next time,
PS. I also want to say thanks to everyone who read this blog and to the surprising number of you who sent me messages and told me that you enjoyed reading it. I loved writing more than I thought I would and the feedback meant a lot to me. I enjoyed writing so much that I’m going to (try to) keep going over the next year when I’m back in London. It might be a regular thing, it might not, I’m not really sure yet, but more than anything it’s going to be something to keep me entertained, so I don’t expect you to actually read it. I’ll probably write about living on a budget in London and things to do on the cheap in the best city in the world, perhaps some recipes and posts to do with health and fitness, and maybe even some personal posts about my life and issues I care about if I get brave enough to put that kind of thing on the internet for the world to disagree with. We’ll see how it goes.