As the semester comes to an end, you may be saying farewell to many friends who will be abroad come 2012. Or maybe that jetsetter will be you. New cultures, cuisines and lifestyles await you overseas, but as much as you may think you’re well prepared for new nightlife, there are many things abroad that are much different than the nightlife in America. Here are some things to look out for:
What to wear
There are no frat parties or sports bars in Europe, so don’t expect to walk into a club in jeans and Sperry’s and blend in. The nightlife scene in Europe is much more fashionable, and you will definitely stand out as a tourist in frat tanks or leggings. Another tip to remember, girls, is to always keep your handbag as close to your body as possible, zipped up. There are horror stories about girls getting their bags stolen or slashed, but it is easily preventable if you are always conscious of your surroundings and your belongings.
How to handle yourself
It may seem okay to walk or take a cab home by yourself when you are near your home university, but in Europe it is not advisable. Cab drivers will recognize that you are an American and will try to charge you more, or drive in circles to run the meter. Make sure you are always with a friend, or at least someone that is coherent enough to recognize the quickest way to get home.
Where to go
It would definitely be sensible to talk to other students who studied abroad in your respective city before you get there. It may be safe to stroll the streets of America looking for a bar to go to but in Europe things work a little differently. Even if it’s the difference between what you pay for drinks, being as knowledgeable on the places to go can never hurt.
Don’t get cocky
“The one piece of advice I could give to students studying abroad is to take it with a grain of salt. You are going to have the time of your life but you need to pay closer attention to things you normally wouldn’t. Travel often, speak the native language and absorb as much culture as you can, but don’t think you own the city after a week of being there. You don’t.”
– Sara Sopher, Senior, The George Washington University
Photo: Frank Hanswijk at The Guardian