So you are about to study abroad and you want to get the most out of your experience! Some of the larger study abroad programs attract a cross-section of U.S. students. Some of these classmates will become your lifelong friends, others you may find yourself avoiding. The latter may not simply be annoying they may have the ability to ruin your day or your study abroad experience. Here are a few personalities you may encounter.
1. The shots guy. This is the guy who has to do shots every time you go out. You may actually do shots once in awhile but this guy is convinced fun cannot be had without them and he has no social awareness skills. If he is offering shots at the café on a Monday afternoon he is the “shots guy.”
2. “It’s Better Back Home” girl. Everything you do is somehow inferior to how it is back in Dubuque. You sometimes wonder why she ever left home if it was so incredible where she comes from. Just remember it’s not better it’s just different.
3. “The Loud American”. Sorry Americans but this is a label that is used outside our borders. You know the one, he is always the loudest in the room regardless of the setting.
4. The Politician. This guy wants to talk politics with everyone. Maybe he is defending his politics back home or maybe he is lecturing the locals on how to better create the perfect democracy as intended by the founding fathers.
5. “The First Culture” girl. This girl cannot break free of her home network. She texts on WhatsApp with her posse back at MSU whenever you go out. She is on the phone during every excursion and checks her facebook any moment she is not speaking and occasionally when she is.
6. Language dependent guy. This guy wants to stand next to you always, because you are his translator and as your language skills improve his get worse. He will become dependent on you and drag you down.
7. The “Inappropriately Dressed” at every occasion chick. This girl wore her wildest nightclub outfit for the church excursion. She wore jean shorts to the indigenous culture night and a Kimono to the Chinese new years party. She keeps embarrassing you and you are trying hard to change to local fashion but she is really becoming a sideshow.
8. The Dependent. This girl has no idea how to get from point A to point B without you. She’s always culturally confused, needs reassurance constantly, and can’t seem to keep track of her belongings. She can’t do anything by herself, can’t even decide what to order on her own. You feel like a babysitter rather than a classmate when you spend time with her.
I am sure you will discover a few more like the guy who never does his laundry, the guy who came abroad to hook up, or the girl who is on a semester long shopping excursion. Figure out what you want out of your study abroad experience, maybe it’s cultural immersion, improving your language skills, or connecting with locals, and don’t get distracted by those with other agendas.