It's an odd thing to have a deadline for friendships. When we go abroad, we spend three months living with random strangers. We all come from different schools, states, and even countries. Three months of building relationships and making memories. Yet, in the back of your mind, you know that when the third month comes to an end, you probably will never see these people again. It is a bittersweet situation.
It's a frantic rush in the beginning. Everyone is trying to find others to hang out with, people with similar interests, grasping onto any connection they can. The best way to put it is that the first week of abroad is like freshman year all over again. Hey, what's your name, where are you from, what school do you go to, etc. it's all repetitive and honestly mind-numbing. You'll meet 30 people a day and won't remember a single name. But that's just a part of the experience. Everyone has to go through it, and it's the only way to meet others. My only advice during this time is to say yes to everything. Are a bunch of kids going to a bar, and it seems really silly and awkward? Go anyways! You can always leave early, but at least give yourself a chance to find your people.
If you go abroad with a group of friends, don't be one of those people who only hang out with the friends they came with. Reach out and step out of your comfort zone. What's the point of going to a foreign country if you're going to do what you can do back home with the people you have in college? More importantly, drop the superiority complex. Just because you have pre-established relationships doesn't mean you're any better than the kids looking for someone to hang out with. Trust me. You're gonna want people other than your hometown friends. Spending three months with the same 5 people you're also returning to college with is a recipe for disaster.
Don't overthink the relationships you make. Not everyone is going to be your best friend. Some people suck— even in Europe. But, in good news, you'll only have to spend three months with those people. Plus, the weekends are spent traveling, and by the time the program ends, you won't even remember who they are. This being said, I really haven't heard any horror stories of serious drama from anyone, so realistically, you'll be just fine.
Although having to make new friends so quickly is daunting and a bit awkward, you'll find your people eventually. I cannot begin to explain how thankful I am for the friends I have made here in Milan. We are the most chaotic group of delinquents who, realistically, should not be allowed in Europe alone. As cliché as it sounds, I will cherish the memories I have made with my friends for the rest of my life. Sure, maybe I won't see them consistently or even at all once we leave the program, but there's a strange feeling of tranquility when I think about this. It's like we are given closure as we return home for a new part of our lives. These people have been through so much with me, and we are all connected by our experiences and memories. I hope you, too, can find friends that shape your time abroad in such a positive way as I have.
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Hi!! I'm Kate Cook, a junior at Villanova University Studying Comprehensive Sciences/Computer Science. I grew up in Thailand, and spent most of high school in Fairfax, VA, but have been living in Sydney, Australia for the last 4 years. Evidently, I've got lots of experience with foreign education but I can't wait to see what it's like in Europe! I love to travel, paint, read, play volleyball, and listen to all genres of music. I am beyond excited to be living in Milan for a semester, and can't wait to share all of my stories with you!