The Four Types You’ll Meet When You Say You’re Going Abroad

Whether you’re considering taking a study abroad term for the first time or you’re a veteran traveller, a young person talking about travel plans brings out a whole slew of well-wishers, travel fans, and nay-sayers. Here are the four types of people you’ll likely encounter, once the word gets out about your big trip.

1. The Idealist

This person is as sweet and encouraging as can be. When you tell them you’re taking a semester in Thailand or a year in France, they have nothing but support to give you. To them, travel is synonymous with relaxation, happiness , and adventure. “How could one even have a bad day in Europe?” they wonder.

Although they have plenty of advice and sweet things to say, you feel reluctant bringing up any negative aspects of your trip to this person, because that may seem ungrateful. After all, a study abroad term is living in another country, not taking an extended vacation.

Horrible, no good, very bad days will certainly happen, no matter where you live. Graciously accept the Idealist’s well wishes, but realize they might not completely understand the trials of your experience.

2. The One Who’s Done It

This person possesses a trove of knowledge about airport navigation, getting along with the locals, and balancing studying with leisure. Especially helpful are the friends and family members who have travelled to the country of your study abroad, as they can give you curated advice.

Take advantage of this resource! Ask them for recommendations, travel tips, and if they still speak the language, ask to practice it with them. Their knowledge is free and is enthusiastically offered to you. Say thank you!

3. The Cautionary

This person has kept up on the news, and they know exactly what’s going on (apparently) in every country in the world.

They are ready to tell you everything that’s going to go wrong on your trip. Kidnapping, theft, terrorist attacks… to them, they’re all highly likely events that will happen to YOU.

The Cautionary, with their perceived intellectual upper-hand, is skilled at burying worms of doubt and fear into even the most resilient traveler’s minds. Heed their cautions, but realize that violence and stolen passports could happen anywhere, even in your own hometown. Nowhere will be completely safe, so don’t let a paranoid friend or family member keep you from a dream experience!

As long as you pay close attention to your surroundings and keep track of your belongings, you’ll most likely be able to come home bragging about your safe trip to any naysayer.

4. The Supportive One

This person has a level head and gives the best advice. You can be completely honest about your experience, and you never need to modify or sugar-coat your stories.

Like the Idealist, they understand that study abroad is a wonderful privilege, but they would never rebuke you for not enjoying parts of it or being homesick.

Like the Cautionary, they understand the risks of travel but would never advise you against taking a vetted exchange program in a foreign country. This person is part of your essential support system, and will make your study abroad term all the better.

Don’t forget to bring them a gift from abroad! (Actually, you should just do that in general for your close friends and family — holidays and birthdays are always around the corner, and you will be very popular!)

As you prepare for your study abroad term, recognize that everyone will have something to say, good or bad, about your impending experience. Use your resources, ask questions, brush off the negative types, and have a wonderful trip!

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