100 Things I Learned After a Year Abroad

Inspired by my dear blogging buddy Nat and in honor of the fact that this year’s class is currently on their way to the small lovely city I called my home for a year, here are 100 things I learned while living in France. 

  1. Bread + butter is a severely underrated combo.
  2. Tea makes everything better.
  3. When life sucks go for a run. 
  4. Don’t dismiss the blond lacrosse player from Florida or the fashion-loving party girl from Cali. The former may turn out to be a serious bookworm and fellow quote enthusiast, the latter a budding poet and running buddy. 
  5. Music makes everything better. Make playlists for running, for sleep, for when you want to throw things and scream, for when you’re sad, for studying (an all classical one), for when you just wanna dance and for when you can’t stop smiling…soundtracks to a lifetime. 
  6. Public transportation is a beautiful thing.  
  7. Sometimes, it’s just a sweatshirt and leggings kind of day. And that is ok.
  8. Cheese is dessert.
  9. Dessert should be had after every meal (excluding breakfast cuz it practically already is just dessert). 
  10. A good pair of shoes can make or break a day. For example, a colorful pair of rain boots on what seems like the umpteenth dreary, rain day in weeks provide a splash of happiness amongst swathes of grey.
  11. If the bus is late, don’t wait, just start walking. 
  12. Friendship is impromptu ice cream dates after bombing a math test, cram sessions over cups of caramel tea and bringing each other chocolate when they’re having a bad day. (Vanilla dark chocolate is like a universal pick me up).
  13. Don’t forget to show people you care. 
  14. Watching French movies is ALWAYS a good idea. 
  15. Don’t judge the family-friendly Catholic movie your host parents invite you to. It may turn out to be an actually funny backdrop to bonding, complete with caramel kettle corn.
  16. Speculoos is heaven in a jar. 
  17. Blood meat sausage is just as oily as it sounds. Try at your own risk.
  18. Every now and again, one just needs photo shoots with street art. 
  19. The French will judge you. 
  20. Europeans don’t do backpacks. 
  21. The effortless French style is a lie. Effortless actually means at least 30 minutes, a lot of perfume, red lipstick and varying amounts of black eyeliner.  
  22. Beauty is pain.
  23. Friday afternoons should be spent in the company of friends, sprawled across the floor of a loft watching badly dubbed movies projected onto a skylight.
  24. It’s ok to act like an obnoxiously loud American teenager every once in a while.
  25. Running clothes aren’t meant for grocery shopping.
  26. Going to an outdoor market is still a surprisingly authentic and worthwhile experience despite the ubiquity of supermarkets. 
  27. Brunch is a cute word and an even cuter meal.
  28. It is possible to get mentally, physically and emotionally lost in an art museum. Two out of those three are actually rather pleasant sensations.
  29.  Hostel food is generally not appetizing or all that cheap. Lose-lose situation…
  30. Meteorologists are often wrong. Forget the apps and just look out a window. 
  31. It is possible for a social media junkie to go 2 weeks without any real outside contact and almost 9 months without steady Internet.
  32. Don’t forget to live a little. Go for a run in the rain, grab tea after class or go out to dinner with friends.
  33. Good friends are the family you choose. 
  34. There’s nothing wrong with a cathartic cry every now and again. 
  35. Nothing good happens after 2am. Unless you’re in a hotel room somewhere in the middle of France with 6 of your best friends.  
  36. The metro will close eventually. Even in Paris. 
  37. Notes are more fun to take in pen.
  38. There’s no such thing as too much black.
  39. February is inevitably dreary. 
  40. French people like American music. They don’t understand why Americans want to listen to French music.
  41. Most “popular” musicians who sing in French aren’t actually French. 
  42. This too shall pass.
  43. A good bus buddy shares their music and food. 
  44. It is possible to sleep on airplanes and buses (especially if you and your seat neighbor are willing to fold like pretzels).
  45. If you think you couldn’t possibly eat an entire sleeve of Langues de Chat cookies, think again. Just let it happen.
  46. Write letters. The people who care will always write back. Plus getting snail mail is like Christmas in a tiny envelope.
  47. Cathedrals come in all shapes and sizes (like people) but they’re still all breathtaking and have beautiful windows. 
  48. It’s ok to fall. 
  49. Always have water, an umbrella, gum, a hair tie, headphones and a book in your bag. 
  50. There’s no such thing as goodbye. 
  51. Anything can happen.
  52. If you want something, go for it.
  53. Write things down. Words. Quotes. Images. Feelings. Ideas. Save them.  
  54. Everyone’s a little messed up somehow– even diamonds can be flawed.
  55. Accents are endearing.
  56. A night in with good friends and a movie generally beats a night out with strangers. 
  57. Internet is not guaranteed.
  58. A year without AC is doable. A year without heating is not. 
  59. Sometimes it’s better not to have a detailed plan. You never know where your wanderings may lead.
  60. There are few things more comforting than the sound of rain. 
  61. Always buy the metro tickets in Germany. Even if you think your 24-hour passes should still be valid. Just buy another ticket. 
  62. Being in a country where you can’t speak the language is like being an infant all over again. 
  63. Crêpes in Paris don’t hold a candle to crêpes in Brittany. 
  64. Don’t ask “why?” Ask “why not?”
  65. Everyone does pizza differently. 
  66. There is no better feeling than being told by a native that you don’t sound foreign.
  67. Pickpockets are real and prevalent.
  68. Napoleon was almost not French.
  69. People are too complex to be judged and labeled as any one thing.
  70. You can spend an entire semester studying the American efforts in World War 1. 
  71. La Shoah is not the same thing as le choix.
  72. Lunch should be an hour-long, five-course affair.
  73. Rachitique does not mean ratchet.
  74. The French don’t have a word for awkward.
  75. Learning a new language in your second language is mind blowing.  
  76. Old people have the best stories. 
  77. People change.
  78. Une bouteille d’eau is bottled water that’ll cost you. Une carafe d’eau is from the tap and free. 
  79. Study abroad bucket lists are meant to be completed, edited, and elongated. 
  80. When everyone’s asleep, the city breathes. 
  81. Sometimes, buses just won’t come.
  82. Paris is always a good idea.
  83. You can’t make buttercream frosting without powdered sugar.
  84. When you usually get a two-week break every two months, going three months without a break is killer.
  85. People who say they love rain have probably never lived in a place where it rains constantly.
  86. Listening to top 40 music from back when you lived in America will either a- make you really nostalgic and sad or b- remind you of fun times back home (which oftentimes inevitably leads to “a”).
  87. Homesickness will wear off (eventually). 
  88. Not sticking out as a foreigner is an art. 
  89. Getting lost can be both a blessing and a curse. 
  90. All umbrellas are not created equal.
  91. Don’t underestimate the power of the little things.
  92. If you can’t parallel park, don’t even think about driving in most of Europe.
  93. Losing yourself in a language is an incredible feeling.
  94. Go to museums. When you’re under 18 they’re free in most places.
  95. If you’re feeling down, it’s clearly the dementors’ fault so it’s perfectly acceptable, in fact it’s advisable, to consume large amounts of chocolate. 
  96. A large part of study abroad is hanging out in cafés and people watching.
  97. The French drink lots of liquids like hot chocolate, milk and juice, out of a bowl.
  98. Everything is relative.
  99. The girl you sat next to on the bus and the girl from Alaska and the tall lanky blond boy and the soccer jock from the middle of nowhere-Maine and the crazy theatre girl and even the girl who once lived 15 minutes away but to whom you’ve never really spoken before might just turn out to be seriously kindred spirits and lifelong friends.
  100. Everything will work out and be ok in the end. (If it’s not ok, it’s not the end).

 

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4 thoughts on “100 Things I Learned After a Year Abroad

  1. I love this so much! I am currently applying for SYA 2015/16 year, and this just makes me want to be there and very excited about possibly going. I love all of your blog posts by the way. You are an excellent writer.

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