The beginning of senior year brings many things. Chief among these is the great ambivalence over seeing your friends who just came back from the typical second-semester-junior-year abroad. It’s an ambivalence because while you’re happy they’re back in your presence, you have to hear what I’m sure they think are unique stories about their AMAZING time abroad, peppered with some local vernacular and pronunciations like “mate,” “Mel-bun” or “Bar-tha-lona,” and then deal with the few weeks of “Oh I’m going out with my Spain friends tonight, I’ll see you at Tom & Marty’s though!”
Let me provide a quick disclaimer: I am jealous of all of you. I wish I had planned better and been able to study abroad, and I am not trying to take away from your experience. But aren’t the twice-weekly Instagram updates of beautiful coasts and beautiful buildings and beautiful people and beautiful beauty enough? Do we have to now hear about that random sex you had with an Aboriginal Australian back in February? I’m sure it was great and different random sex, but to me all random foreign sex stories are the same. Yes, I’ve heard that Americans are prudes, thanks for the reminder. I’ll keep that in mind next time at the Rat.
Now don’t get me started on the classes you take: “Intro to the Australian Language,” “Italian Culture and Cuisine” or the most popular course at any college outside of the U.S., “How America Fucks Things Up 101.” I’m glad you got to take a semester off, drink, travel, do an astonishing amount of drugs and still get 12 credits, all pass/fail. I’m sure there are students who take classes like that here too, but we have to deal with jobs, shitty weather, a small selection of bars, fake IDs and the fact that “Well, she’s a Binghamton 7…” is a real and trusted scale.
I’m not trying to garner pity from those who were able to go abroad. And I’m certainly not asking you to change anything about what you should do while you’re over there. Take easy classes, visit everywhere, drink anywhere, hook up with everyone, take thousands of pictures. Put them all on Instagram. On the same day. I’m simply asking for a little discretion upon your return. Don’t worry, we will also restrain from filling you in on our exciting semester of all-nighters, eight-hour shifts and Sodexo food.
To those who still have the opportunity, let this be a cautionary tale. Go study abroad. Don’t be like me, the bitter old man waving his cane at the youngsters because they’re making too much noise having fun. Go and have those experiences we all wished for as wide-eyed freshmen reading study abroad pamphlets. The clichés are probably true: College is the best time to go to another country, do it while you’re still young, etc. Or gloriously wallow in jealous, self-pitying rage that is so profound that you write an article about it. I can’t attest to the former, but I am enjoying the wallowing.