Coming to Terms with the Fact that You’re Not Studying Abroad

If you’re a college junior like I am, then this is the semester all your friends decide to get out of the college town and move (albeit temporarily) across the Atlantic Ocean. They’re completely abandoning you, leaving you with significantly fewer friends in a place that now seems like a ghost town – not that I’m bitter or anything. While they’re all exploring Spain, England and Italy, you’re stuck on campus at the receiving end of a deluge of Snapchats.

But it’s time to get over it. They made the choice to go abroad. You didn’t, and now you have to live with the consequences. However, you can make the best out of this situation; you really can.

It all starts with focusing on what you have that the abroad people don’t. First of which comes to mind is American food chains. Where I go to school, the student body wouldn’t be able to remotely function without Chipotle on a Sunday afternoon (it’s a rumor that our Chipotle is the busiest in the country, but who knows). Now think about the abroad students. Yes, they’ll be experiencing all types of fancy European cuisine. But if they’re studying anywhere but the United Kingdom, Germany or France, they don’t get to fill their mouths with that addictive guacamole inside a burrito. And let’s be real, what’s better than Chipotle when you can barely remove yourself from your bed? Nothing.

Secondly, cheap drinks. College towns are notoriously known for dirt-cheap drinks. I don’t know anyone who has ever spent more than $25 during a night out, and that $25 leaves the spender far from sober. Using an average of $3 per drink, that $25 covers the cost of about eight drinks. Not to mention that cover is usually only $5 or, if you get to the bar early enough, nonexistent. College town bars leave your wallet fatter than European bars. A 2012 Eurostat survey found that Ireland has the second highest alcohol prices in the EU, with Sweden and the United Kingdom close behind. A typical drink in Europe will cost you around $7 with the exchange rate. Take the same $25 out in Europe, and you’ll only be able to afford about three drinks. Think about which you’d prefer; like the AT&T commercial says, more is always better.

The best thing, however, about staying on campus while your friends are abroad is the opportunity for inexpensive European travel. Visiting your abroad friends is much cheaper than traveling to Europe at another time. Think about it; all you have to do is crash on a couch in your friend’s flat, and that instantly cuts out the cost of a hotel or hostel. Then pretty much all you’ll have to pay for is a flight, shopping and food and drinks. At what other point in your life will you be able to travel to Europe without having to pay for lodging? So take advantage of that opportunity; mooch off your abroad friends; sleep on their couches; get the most of a spring break in Europe for the least amount of money.

Most importantly, life in college towns goes on no matter what. It doesn’t matter who is abroad or when; nothing can stop students from their on- and off-campus shenanigans. You essentially have your whole life to romp through Europe, seeing the sights by day and pouring it up by night. But you only have four short years at college, that’s four precious years to check streaking across the mall and hooking up in the library off your bucket list. Why sacrifice that for countries that will still be there in five years? In five years, you can still go to Europe and have basically the same experience as you would studying abroad. But in five years, you can’t go back to your college town and live like you’re 21 – that’s just creepy.

FOMO goes both ways, and whether you realize it or not, those abroad people are missing out right now.

Rachel is a junior multiplatform journalism major at the University of Maryland.  She spends her time watching weird TLC shows, making questionable life choices and being the queen of sass. Follow her College Park shenanigans on Twitter @rachhbarron.

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