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The 20 People You Need When Studying Abroad

April 5, 2013

There are two types of people you need when you’re spending a semester across the ocean: those who are still at home, and those who are on the same side with you.

At home, you need the friend who knows your default needs, the friend who is never not there for you and who you know will still be there when you return.

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Me: I really want you to be able to come to the airport when I get back to the States, but I don’t want to waste your time. For all I know we might just be at the airport for five minutes and then head home.
Friend: No, it’ll be more than five minutes at the airport. We’re going to spend at least five minutes hugging anyway.

You need the friend who will find time to chat with you in her crazy schedule and then with whom you have conversations on any topic, from Harry Potter to the new Pope.

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Friend: Hi! So, I won’t be able to Skype Friday. We’re trying to figure out next year’s housing, so we’re going to the rental agency to grill them about a house that they’re trying to rent to us that should have been condemned last year. Next weekend I have a meeting at 1, so I’ll have to stay on campus until then. I’ll be able to Skype at 2:30 though!
(Sometime after 2:30)
Me: POPE.
Friend: OH MY GOSH POPE! I am so pumped. He seems awesome.
Me: I think so, too. I also for some reason really really like that he picked the name Francis?
Friend: HOW has no one chosen Francis before? Really. It should be the most popular name.

You need the person with whom you grew up with, who, even after spending years on the opposite side of the country, still knows you better than anyone.

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Sister: Side note — I’m watching the first Anne of Green Gables with Mark and he doesn’t know what happens in the end and I’M SO NERVOUS
Me: Ahhh!!
Sister: I KNOW. I’ve already gotten all choked up. I had to tell you; I knew you would understand.
(later)
Sister: Mark and I got a dozen Dunkin donuts yesterday. It was no bueno.
Me: OH STOP YOU’RE TORTURING ME; DUNKIN DONUTS IS ON THE MISSED FOOD LIST.
Sister: I MEAN. THEY WERE TERRIBLE.
Me: THANK YOU.
Sister: AND IT WASN’T DUNKIN DONUTS. IT WAS MOES.
Me: OH WOW, THAT DID THE TRICK.

You need the people who have absurd amounts of patience to answer your questions about finances, airplane crashes, and the feasibility of making chocolate chip cookies in a frying pan on a hot plate.

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I found this photo while scrolling through the archives. EVERYONE, TELL MY PARENTS HOW ADORABLE THEY ARE.

Then there are the people who aren’t back home, who are abroad like you or who are are abroad by your definitions but home by theirs.

You need the 14 classmates with whom you can share anecdotes of new life in Paris and frustrations about schoolwork and who make being a student here far more enjoyable.

I have no pictures of my 14 program classmates, so here's a picture of where we spend half of our school days.

I have no pictures of my 14 program classmates, so here’s a picture of where we spend half of our school days.

You need the person who’s a native to your foreign land and who will not only put up with your naivete but will also invite you to dinner on a regular basis, the person who you really won’t know how to thank for everything.

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Me: Thanks again for having me!
Friend: No worries! I’m happy to welcome you home.

You need the friend who will invite you to spend the Easter weekend with her family and then let you stay a full week since the buses won’t run right after the holiday, the friend and her family who will welcome you to their home and give you chores and city tours and Easter eggs, all of which you really, really appreciate.

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Friend: I was just thinking about you coming to visit, and I’m really excited and if you don’t manage it, I think it may be one of the most crushing disappointments I’ve ever experienced. Just in case you needed a little guilt trip to motivate you.
(later)
Friend: It cost a grand total of 50 pence, so I will hold that against you for the rest of your life. Anyway, show your number to the man at that bus, and get on it. Get off again when you see our smiling faces. The stop you’ll be getting off at is at a Tesco.

Yes, Saskia, I admit you told me to get off the bus at Tesco. Thank your mother for finding me on the bus despite my lack of memory, and thank you for a fantastic Easter weekend. Don’t worry, a proper post about it all is coming.

Until then, lovely readers, just find good people. The world is filled with them.

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