How to tell if your friend just studied abroad

Amanda Ramirez/Staff

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For students who study abroad, one of the most enjoyable parts of the whole experience is coming home and being able to share your stories and lessons from overseas with your friends and family. But if you’re on the receiving end, it can be tiresome when your suddenly “worldly” friend won’t stop going on and on about all of the incredible adventures they had and the wisdom they’ve acquired. Here are some things to prepare for if you know someone returning soon from abroad.

They start every sentence with, “Oh, that reminds me of the time…”

And then proceed to tell you about some crazy night they had at an Irish pub or an Australian hiking trail. And all you did was mention that you ate a sandwich for lunch.

They explain some valuable life lesson they learned while abroad, without solicitation

A student who studies abroad never lets others forget what a life-changing, enlightening experience it is to really be pushed out of your comfort zone and exposed to new cultures. Even something as simple as asking them how their day went can end in regret, as it may launch an incessant rant about differences in social customs and norms.

They become overly critical about every single thing that Americans do

From leaving shoes on in the house to our comically large portions of food, study abroad returnees will never pass up the opportunity to talk about how inferior American culture is to that of wherever it was they studied abroad. Believe it or not, you don’t actually need to leave the country to point out the many things wrong with America.

They only hang out with their friends from traveling

If they participated in a program with other students from UC Berkeley, chances are they made some lasting friends with whom they are suddenly spending lots of time. Their traveling friends just get it in a way their “uncultured” friends don’t: “We just bonded so much, and we really need each other to get through this tough reverse culture shock.”

They endlessly post #tbt pictures on Instagram

Here’s a cool photo they took in front of some church they probably couldn’t name! And another one in front of a wall that could literally be anywhere! And the caption will almost undoubtedly be something along the lines of “Take me back” or “Dreaming of (fill in name of country here).” If they’re extra obnoxious, they’ll throw in some hashtags such as #culture or #wanderlust.

They use foreign slang like it’s totally natural for them

When you suggest taking BART to the city, they may act confused and then say, “Oh, right! See, in London we call it the Tube!” Because somehow, after spending three months abroad, the local traditions are seemingly burned into their brain.

We get it — studying abroad really can expose you to new ideas and cultures, push you out of your comfort zone and, to use the old cliche, change your life. But if you’ve just returned home from abroad, spend some time reflecting on these thoughts by yourself, silently, because chances are, it won’t take long for other people to figure out you’ve just been abroad.


Contact Hannah Nguyen at [email protected].