It's estimated around 10 percent of students will study abroad at some point during their time in college, where they'll have plenty of chances to make the same dumb decisions as regular college kids in a much more exotic locale.
Despite my best efforts to spend a semester in a country where both I and the drinking age would be under 21, I never got the chance to attend college in a different country -- a lack of experience that taught me an invaluable lesson about what it's like to be truly deprived.
I might not have gotten the opportunity to be blessed with the advanced and superior worldview that almost every person who studies abroad seems to magically inherit but thanks to the Internet, I managed to live vicariously through some of the lucky Ten Percent.
These people taught me a lot of lessons they learned while living in another country ("People in Europe just get it" was probably the most common one I came across), but I think the most important thing I learned while stalking people I'd friended the first week of my freshman year was what not to do when going abroad.
I'm passing these lessons on in the hopes other people will be able to avoid making the same mistakes.
The Aspiring National Geographic Photographer
If you know anyone who's gone abroad, there's a very good chance you've read some variation of the text below about a week before they boarded the plane:
There's nothing wrong with occasionally updating your blog when you have some spare time so that your family and friends can keep track of the once-in-lifetime adventures you've been lucky enough to experience.
Just don't be the person with an SLR camera around your neck for four straight months, insisting everyone waits while you spend 15 minutes composing a revolutionary shot of a sunset over a river in a quaint European city.
The Person Who Unconsciously Turns Into Jesus
As someone who very rarely travels out of my comfort zone, I want to stress I'm not trying to take away from the people who willingly sacrifice months of the college experience to actually try to make a difference.
I honestly commend anyone who resists the urge to recreate "EuroTrip" in favor of trying to solve every problem in Central America, and I honestly think it's important to remind people of the problems in other parts of the world that might not get the attention they deserve.
I commend people who travel to a country with needs and does what they can to address them. With that said, if you notice that most of your photos contain at least some of the following elements, you might want to take a step back and reevaluate things:
-A newly grown beard
-Throngs of adoring children wearing shirts celebrating various Buffalo Bills Super Bowl victories
You're doing a good thing, but don't let it get to your head. Remember: Jesus probably could have invented Instagram if he'd wanted to.
The Person Who Suddenly Starts Pronouncing Certain Foreign Words (Especially Types Of Food) With An Accent
If you're going to be studying in a country that speaks another language, it's not a terrible idea to try to get a handle on some of the most basic words and phrases before immersing yourself in a totally alien culture.
Even if you can't speak a single word of the language of the country you foolishly decided to travel to, you'll probably end up picking up more than a few words and phrases during the course of your visit.
However, that does not make you bilingual. Unless you somehow manage to master the language before leaving, your accent should drop as soon as the landing gear does on the approach to the United States.
Officially known as "Giada De Laurentiis Syndrome," this ailment seems to disproportionately affect students who spent time studying abroad in Italy for at least one semester.
The most common symptom of this disease is going to, say, a fancy French restaurant or a Taco Bell and attempting to pronounce the names of the menu items the same way natural speakers do. In severe circumstances, the victim will attempt to converse with the waiter in the appropriate tongue.
The best treatment is staring at the person in silence until he or she gets the message.
The Person Who Starts Every Sentence After Coming Back From Abroad With "When I Was Abroad..."
If you've been to college, you've met these people, and if you've been aboard, you've definitely been this person for at least some amount of time.
I'm not knocking on people are who are genuinely excited to share stories about the incredibly unique experiences they were blessed enough to have, but it's important to get this out of your system as soon as possible.
You might think an experience you had in Barcelona is relevant to a classroom discussion about the Shoguns of feudal Japan, but nobody else in that classroom will.