9 People You Won’t Meet On Your High School Study Abroad Program

by Danielle DeSimone

While you’ve been prepping for your high school study abroad program, you probably (re: should be) reading up on historical sites, researching the best coastlines and mountain peaks you want to visit, and picking out the perfect Instagram-worthy outfits for all that travel-blogging you’re about to do in your host country. 

Hallway filled with blue lockers at a high school
The might wander the halls of your high school, but you won’t meet these kids studying abroad.

But, you’re also probably wondering about all the incredible people that you’ll meet while abroad. If you’re worried about making new friends, don’t! Studying abroad creates friendships that last for a lifetime. However, while your adventure will bring many different people into your life, we promise that the following are nine people you won’t meet on your high school study abroad program: 

1. The Kid Who Couldn’t Care Less

You know this student; they’re the one sitting in the back of the classroom, staring at the ceiling, and completely disengaged from what they’re learning. They didn’t even want to study abroad, it was just, like, their mom’s idea or maybe their counselor’s suggestion to make their college applications look better. 

This student doesn’t care about what they’re learning, the country they should be exploring, or even all the delicious gelato they could be nomming on in Italy. They’re simply cruising through their time abroad, waiting until they board a plane back home. 

Don’t worry, this student will most definitely NOT be on your high school study abroad program, because how could anyone not be insanely enthusiastic about studying abroad and seeing all that the world has to offer?!

2. An Unwelcoming Host Family

Many high school study abroad programs offer students the option to live in a homestay, which gives students the opportunity to live with a local family, who absolutely don’t care about welcoming them into their home whatsoever.

Just kidding! The chances of you getting an unwelcoming host family are extremely slim. Host families usually volunteer to be a homestay so that students from abroad can feel welcomed into their country and culture, and they love their job! 

Suddenly moving to another country (even for a brief amount of time) can be overwhelming, but host families help ease you into the experience. Not only will you learn about the daily life of someone in your host country, you’re also guaranteed to make long-lasting relationships. Don’t be surprised if you still exchange Christmas cards with you host-mom and host-siblings 10 years after studying abroad in Ecuador. 

Girl sitting in a cafeteria looking at her phone
That kid who can’t seem to care or get off their smartphone will definitely NOT be on your study abroad trip. 

3. A Boring Program Leader 

Ugh, this program leader is just the worst; not because they do annoying things, but because they don’t do anything at all. Who knew that a person assigned specifically to lead you through your educational trip to Korea could be so lame?! 

PSYCH! There’s no way your program leader will be boring! Any adult who dedicates herself or himself to teaching high school students about the world through meaningful travel is going to be passionate and excited to take you on this trip. They also probably have an endless amount of stories from their past traveling adventures! Get to know your program leader while you’re abroad, because we guarantee that they’re pretty cool. 

4. Your Very Own Paolo or Kostas 

Everyone knows that high school study abroad trips practically guarantee you a true love story down the historical streets of Rome or the cliffs of Grecian islands. Is there really any other reason to study abroad other than your true love (cute accent required)? 

Ok, real talk: you might not meet the guy or gal of your dreams while studying abroad, and you shouldn’t be upset if you don’t leave your time abroad with a long-distance beau. Your time abroad will still be fulfilling and fun without a summer affair, but if you do end up getting to know the local dating scene, be safe and have fun! After all, this is what dreams are made of (hey! hey! hey!).

5. Lame Support Staff

Once you arrive to a new and unfamiliar country, you’ll be completely on your own, with no knowledge of how to get from the airport to your host family’s house, no idea of where the closest grocery store is, and completely unprepared for your classes, thanks to an unhelpful program support staff. 

Except not, because most support staff on study abroad programs are extremely supportive (Get it? Get it?). The support staff of high school study abroad programs understand that this might be your first time leaving your home alone, or even your country. They also know that this time abroad, while undoubtedly an awesome experience, could also be a little stressful. After all, culture shock is a very real thing, and they may have experienced it in the past too. Spend time getting to know your on site staff, ask them questions and lean on them when you need to; that’s what they are there for! 

Silhouette of a man and woman kissing on swings over water
You probably won’t meet the love of your life; sorry to burst your bubble.

6. The Student Who Would Rather be at Home 

This student was homesick the moment they got off the plane. Not only do they talk endlessly about how excited they are to get back home, they also compare everything in your host country to home, claiming that things at home are better (and not just different).

While it’s totally normal to sometimes feel homesick when studying abroad, you probably won’t run into someone who spends their entire time abroad complaining about how much they miss home. It’s okay to bring up the subject of home and to miss it, but chances are, you and your fellow students will be having so many adventures abroad that you won’t have time to think about home!

7. Uninspiring Teachers

Don’t you hate it when your study abroad teachers are completely boring and don’t make you want to learn at all? Yeah, us too, which is why it’s so great that most study abroad teachers totally rock our socks off when it comes to inspiring their students to learn! Study abroad teachers know that learning is not just limited to the classroom.

That’s why many study abroad programs include experiential learning in their programs. When studying mythology in Greece, or ecological conservation in Costa Rica, your teachers will take you out of the classroom and expose you to the subject in real life. They’ll inspire you by bringing these subjects to life, but also with their enthusiasm and love of what you are studying! 

8. Locals That Feel Like Home

When you arrive in your study abroad country, you can jump off that plane expecting everyone to speak your native language and understand your cultural and social upbringing, right? Well…no.

The whole point of going abroad is to explore another country; not just by snapping pics of the Aztec temples or trying Korean BBQ, but also by experiencing its culture. Wherever you travel, you’ll find that the locals, whether they be your guides or the elderly man you barter with at the market, will be different from the people you know back home. And that’s a good thing! You can learn more from the differences between cultures than the similarities.

When studying abroad, culture shock is just as important as your classes, and you will become a more globally-minded citizen by learning from cultures other than your own. 
Man walking down a wooden stairway
You won’t meet the perfect traveler, because the perfect traveler doesn’t exist!

9. The Perfect Traveler

Social media has a habit of glorifying travel to the point where we think airplanes always provide pillows with their four course meals, and every travel blogger starts their morning off with a fresh croissant along the Seine.

The reality is, traveling and studying abroad can be a stressful, messy business, and there is no such thing as “the perfect traveler” who glides through their adventures, balancing both cultural exploration and flawless outfits that never wrinkle and look great on Instagram.

Don’t expect to meet that perfect traveler on your high school study abroad program and don’t be disappointed with yourself if you can’t manage to have it all and live the life of the #wanderlust hashtag. 

It’s okay if you struggle to learn the language, or if you don’t always love your host family’s cooking, or if you feel a little homesick even while you’re exploring incredible sites on your bucket list. No one said studying abroad is easy, it’s just guaranteed to be an adventure.

The truth is, studying abroad is a big deal.

Choosing what country and program you’ll be studying in can be a lot of pressure, but the best way to put away your fears of studying abroad is by doing your research. You can read through GoAbroad's High School Study Abroad Articles to learn more, as well as read program reviews and alumni interviews to help you make your decision.

With all these important decisions to make, the last thing you want to worry about is what sort of people you’ll be studying with, and we’re here to tell you that no matter the program, provider, or place you choose, you still won’t meet these nine people on your high school study abroad program. Even on the off chance that you do run into one of these characters, you’ll be surrounded by so much beauty, culture, and passionate people, you’ll hardly even notice these Negative Nancys.

So get excited! Not only are you about to have an international adventure, you’ll also be building lifelong friendships as you explore your study abroad country with fellow high school students.