Cultural Experience | Resources

17 Side Effects of Studying Abroad

17 signs that prove you’ve just returned from a life changing semester abroad

Studying abroad is one of the most rewarding and influential experiences any college student can have in their four years at university. From growing your soul, wanderlust, stomach, and alcohol tolerance, it’s impossible to return from a life-changing experience like this without being a different person than before. Even coming back home can feel like you’re traveling to a new country for the first time. Here are 17 common side effects that you may encounter when returning from studying abroad.

1. It shocks you that you can understand everything. The fact that everyone speaks your language and you can read all the signs without a second thought is overwhelming for your brain that has become so used to translating every five seconds. le mur des je t'aime paris france image

2. You now have a second home across the world. Whether you need a place to stay for a spontaneous week abroad or need suggestions for your next adventure, you now have an entire network of friends to call on overseas. angers france study abroad homestay house image

3. You have never been more appreciative of the simple things in life, like peanut butter, ice cubes and crispy bacon. There are some things that America just does better. You’ll never pass by that beautiful jar of Jif or turn your head at bacon grease again after being away from it for so long. And you won’t even hesitate to ask the waiter for a full glass of just ice cubes, even if they do give you a weird stare. grande place brussels belgium frites with mayo image

4. You have no problem answering the question “Describe a time when you worked with someone from a different background than you” in a job interview. Studying abroad gives you some great material to answer your standard job interview questions, on top of being a resume boost and impressing employers with your cultural knowledge. welcome team orientation at the airport image

5. You blurt out answers in a different language without even thinking. You’ve become so used to saying “Oui” and “Scusi” and “football” that it’s a reflex to answer in that language. Even if the latter does get you in trouble on (American) football gamedays.

Read more: Golden Moments of Studying Abroad

6. You now understand why everyone refers to American foods as “supersized.” It’s insane that you used to be able to eat five plates at an all-you-can-eat buffet and you call the waiter back thinking he mistakenly gave you a double order when he brings out two sandwiches and two sides. two coffees mocha at honeycreek restaurant image

7. You have gained the ability to shout “Cheers!” in at least five different languages. Meeting people from around the world has its benefits, especially when you all go out to the university-sponsored bar and toast to a good night.

8. You now have the magic ability to pack for an entire weekend in a single backpack. Taking spontaneous trips and deciding last minute to join the school excursion mean you’re an expert at weight limits and playing Tetris to fit all your essentials in one bag.

9. Your Instagram feed becomes ten times more famous with all your amazing travel photos. Studying abroad encourages you to use the world as your classroom, and what better way to document it and all your favorite memories than with #travelgram photos? sunset on the colline du chateau in nice france image

10. You impress everyone with your lightning-quick mental math skills. From computing the currency exchange rate to the Celsius-Fahrenheit scale and the 24-hour clock, your experience abroad has taught you some killer computational skills.

Read more: How to Save Up the Funds to Study Abroad

11. You scoff at all of the “authentic” restaurants and their poor imitation foods. After being abroad and tasting what a margherita pizza or Chinese food actually tastes like, nothing offends you more when you get excited for a restaurant claiming to be authentically international only to find out it’s a cheap attempt that doesn’t come close to the real thing. smoked salmon meal with red wine image

12. You can become friends with a total stranger within 24 hours. From laughing at the embarrassing errors you’ve made while attempting to speak the local language to just missing you flight with a new roommate, studying abroad teaches you how to share yourself quickly and bond rapidly you’re both foreigners in a new place. ica tv room image

13. It shocks you that everyone new you meet is also from America. You’re so used to bonding with those who are also strangers in that country and hearing stories from other people’s homeland that it’s a bit disappointing when the most foreign person you meet is from California. You miss the mental challenge that people of different backgrounds bring into a conversation. chicago o'hare airport american flags image

14. Reading the news is no longer just for the retired. It might surprise you how much less you hear about the world when you return home and everyone is focused only on local politics and happenings, so instead you find yourself reading the International New York Times every morning or scanning the headlines on the bus ride to class. newspaper and coffee image

15. You are more at ease with life and confident in yourself. After successfully bartering for a new trinket in the local language, getting lost on the way home from the bars and finding your way again without a street map, and living on your own without the constant support of your family, you return home with a newfound sense of independence and trust in your ability to succeed in life. Travel has a way of helping you figure out who you truly are.

Read more: 33 Signs You were Born to Study Abroad

16. Your life and your world views have been transformed. You approach the world with a more open mindset and say, “That’s interesting” instead of, “That’s weird” when someone shares a tradition you’ve never heard of. Studying abroad has allowed you to recognize the beauty of the cultural differences in the world. looking up at the berlin wall image

17. You have an insatiable wanderlust. After getting even a small taste of what travel can do for you and how big and interesting the world truly is, you can’t help but begin planning your next trip abroad as soon as you return home. small path in eze village france image

You don’t have to see a doctor to experience these side effects. What are you waiting for? Go visit your study abroad office today and join #GenerationStudyAbroad!

17 side effects of studying abroad

Courtney Van Hoosen

University of Nebraska-Lincoln | 5 stories

Courtney is a current senior studying International Business and French with a Japanese minor at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Despite being a Nebraska native, Courtney has dedicated herself to being a global citizen and has visited 15 countries so far. After studying abroad in Angers, France in July 2015 and working as a Public Affairs intern at the U.S. Mission to the European Union in Brussels, Belgium this summer, Courtney hopes to share her stories and travel adventures with her fellow peers.


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