1. Your Instagram feed is devoted to photos of your time abroad.
“#throwbackthursday to the best semester of my life. PLEASE TAKE ME BACK!!”
You took a minimum of a thousand pictures during your education abroad experience, but everyone knows it isn’t socially acceptable to instagram them all at once. So naturally, you’ve settled on a mass upload in a photo album only your grandma and great aunt will take the time to scroll through. Your friends, however, will be forced to relive your experience with you every single Throwback Thursday or Flashback Friday there is to come.
2. You’ve become quite the food snob.
“This is okay…I guess…but it’s not quite authentic.”
No doubt, the food you ate abroad was spectacular. Whether it was a meal prepared by your host mom or something bought from a street vendor, the food in your host country was unquestionably superior. The chances that you’ve found something comparable in the States are also highly unlikely. Hopefully, that Costa Rican cooking class taught you a thing or two.
3. You stalk your university’s Education Abroad Fair and events.
“So what if I went to Spain with ISA four years ago? You HAVE to go!”
Your university has been trying to increase the number of students who study abroad annually, so they’ve invited recent alumni back to talk about their experiences with specific programs. You, of course, did not get the invitation considering you’re a fifth year senior who studied abroad the winter intersession of your freshman year. You make a certain appearance at the fair, however, because your experience was so stellar, you just have to make sure every other student, faculty, staff, and catering team member knows also.
4. You tell people you “lived” in _______ even if your program was only two weeks.
“When I lived in Mexico, I walked a mile to school every. single. day.”
No matter the length of your education abroad program, you feel confident saying you have lived in another country. I was living and breathing in England, after all, right? Every story you have begins with, “This one time in Bath…” and your friends continue to roll their eyes because they just don’t understand.
5. You work for your school Office of Education Abroad.
“We’re EAPAs and we’re better than you.”
Despite the size of your university, your school’s education abroad department might be one room, or an entire floor of a building with multiple advisors and interns. You’ve found a way to land a position, whether paid or volunteer, in the department. You have also even considered graduate school for the first time to work in higher education or considered working as an advisor for education abroad. Shockingly, your fellow interns express the same sentiments.
6. You start pronouncing your host country the way it is pronounced by its people.
“Guys, it’s pronounced CHEE-LAY.”
You had never taken a day of Spanish class before you arrived in Nicaragua, but after just three short weeks, you would consider yourself at least an advanced speaker. Ordering at Mexican restaurants in Kentucky has become one of your favorite pastimes because you think you look sophisticated and worldly.
7. You may have had a fender bender…or two.
“I haven’t even driven for, like, four months.”
Chances are slim that you had the opportunity to drive during your education abroad experience because most programs prevent students from doing so. Even if you had had the opportunity, it is rare that you would have known the rules. The highway outside Monterrey doesn’t have lines and what are kilometers, anyways.
8. Public transportation isn’t quite as daunting.
“Mom, we only took the bus at night when we HAD to.”
Before studying abroad, you had never dared setting foot onto public transportation. Two weeks in San Jose and you’re an expert of the bus system. For less than $1, you can navigate the whole city, and get to the beach: a top priority. Even though your host mom made you promise you’d only take private cabs after 6, taking the bus was FAR more economical when there’s more zip-lining to be done.
9. Wanderlust has taken over your life.
“All I really want for Christmas is a wall-sized world map and push pins.”
So what if you have a giant world map above your bed? Or three? Or seven? Your Pinterest account is an ode to the places you’re dying to go and that first education abroad experience truly set a fire in your heart to see the world. Now, if you could only just convince mom and dad to finance your adventures.
10. If your host country comes up in lecture, you make it clear you are the expert.
“There were numerous dynasties in Asia…” “Asia as in China? I know it! I know it!”
Wherever you lived, you can dominate any conversation about your host country. Whether you’re discussing surfing in Australia or nonprofits in South Africa, you are undeniably the expert. Even if you don’t know all the facts, you still sound pretty intelligent on the topic and people generally take your word for it.
Sarah Caton is a Junior at the University of Kentucky majoring in Gender and Women’s Studies and Spanish. In the Summer of 2014, she participated in a study abroad program in Costa Rica through partner provider Sol Education Abroad.