The friends you make during your study abroad will be different than any other friends you make in your lifetime. When you share an experience like studying abroad with someone, you get to know them on a different level, going through one of the most life-changing times of their life, and you’re forever bonded.
With that said, one of the greatest benefits of studying abroad is the variety of people you get to meet and friends you’ll make. Here are just a few of the different types of friends you’ll make while studying abroad.
1. The Popular Monolinguist
Everyone has one of those friends in their group: The one who doesn’t know the language AT ALL but somehow manages to get along with locals better than anyone else. You will be frustrated with their lack of dedication to learn the language (while you struggle endlessly) but absolutely admire their ability to communicate in their own special way. The extent of their vocabulary may only be “Gracias”, “Ciao” or “Oui” but they will always find a way to make friends with people who don’t speak English.
Why you love them: They are not afraid to laugh at themselves which is what makes them so comfortable to be around. They will help break the ice with new locals and teach you that you don’t always need to know a language to make a new friend.
2. The Planner
There is always at least one person who dedicated the majority of their social life to reading and understanding everything about the culture, the transportation, food, and hot spots of the country you are studying abroad in. They have more travel guides than a Barnes & Noble and probably have every weekend planned out for the entirety of your time there. At this point, it’s safe to assume that there’s nothing Google can tell you about your new country that “The Planner” can’t and they will always be the ultimate resource.
Why you love them: No need to stress about finding hostels, budgeting, or figuring out where to go this weekend…they’ve had it planned out for months! Consider yourself lucky to have a personal travel agent in the form of a lifelong friend.
3. The One Who Falls in Love
This is the friend who has found their lifelong calling. They may fall in love with the city, the language, the culture, a person, or maybe all of the above! This friend will immerse themselves in the entire experience because they have a genuine, deep-seated passion for the new way of life they have discovered. They have learned to accept and adore all aspects of this new culture, even the bad, which adds a special kind of beauty to the country. You may not see this friend as much because they spend so much time with their homestay family, their local friends, or significant other, but they have a special place in your heart.
Why you love them: How can you not love someone with such an appreciation for their time spent abroad? They can introduce you to secret spots in your city they have found or the restaurant that all the locals go to. You know they will move back to that city one day and you look forward to crashing on their couch when you return for a visit.
4. The International Friend
Of all the local friends you make, there will be one who stands out from the others. This is the one who makes fun of you when you mess up trying to speak their language, but will happily teach you the correct way. They will stay up late helping you on your Italian/Portuguese/Japanese etc. homework when you leave it to the last minute again. They want to teach you everything about their customs and are just as excited to learn about yours. You will leave a piece of yourself behind in the city with your local friend. However, you know that when you see each other again, you will pick up right where you left off.
Why you love them: They’ll break you away from the comfort of your American friends to encounter new experiences. They will disband any cultural stereotypes you might have had and open your eyes to the real way of living in their country. They personify the city that became your home and you both thank goodness for the technology that allows you to keep in touch.
5. The Socialite
This friend is crazy in the most positive of ways. There is no amount of coffee you could ever drink to keep up with their energy level. They will always be surrounded by friends and off doing every activity the city has to offer. No one is quite sure how “The Socialite” manages to balance their grades and social life so perfectly for the whole term, but it’s a miracle in itself. They know the hot spots to experience the nightlife as well as the best locations for day hikes and swimming holes. They are off on adventures and meeting locals the second the plane arrives in your new country.
Why you love them: If you want to go swimming at the beach this weekend, they already have their swimsuit on. You’ve never even heard them say anything along the lines of “I don’t feel like it”. This is the friend who is down for any trip. They take advantage of studying abroad with their endless appetite for new experiences. They will positively impact you and push you to try things outside your comfort zone.
Written by: Haley Tucker, USAC Alumnae – Heredia, Costa Rica