It’s been two incredibly short, and yet incredibly long, years since I packed two duffle bags and flew from Nashville to Miami to Helsinki to Budapest to move to Lake Balaton in Hungary. Two freaking years abroad. Though I must add in my disclaimer that I did move home for a grand total of 4 months from the end of January to the end of May in 2017. But who’s counting? (Me, I am counting).
In celebration of two years, I am adding to my narcissism to tell you all, what I, a 24-year-old white woman has learned.
1. Your Mom Always Has the Answer
Seriously. When in doubt, just call your mom. When you’re stressed, call her. When you’re sad, call her. When you want to brag, call her. These past two years have been confusing, stressful, exciting, hard, emotional, and my mom was there for every step with the best advice.
Moms also are the best people to listen to your vent session. She will never betray your trust and tell any friend’s what you say. Your mom also has been around the block a time or two. That annoying sexist boss? Your mom has wisdom. That boyfriend who has the personality of a wet blanket? Your mom experienced it too. That friend who always bails on you? Your mom knows it all too well.
2. Be Thankful for Social Media
Being away means, I’m really thankful for Social Media, but it also means, most of my information about my friend’s lives come from Social Media. I don’t hear about friend’s promotions over drinks, I read about them on Linkedin. I don’t go to the bridal showers, bachelorette parties, or even the weddings, but the pictures help me see how beautiful my friends look. I don’t get to be there for babies being born, but gosh darn it, do I love to watch some babies on Instagram Stories! I don’t get to be at graduations, but I see you getting your Undergrad, Masters, and PhDs!
Our 20s are a time of a lot of changes, milestones, and life-changing moments. I’m sorry I’m not around for all them, but please know I am keeping up with all of you, even if the time zones make it hard for me to text you regularly.
3. Just because You Don’t Talk Every Day, Doesn’t Mean You’re Not Friends Anymore
Friendship in your 20s is hard no matter what, but add in distance and time zones and it’s just down near impossible. One thing I am learning is that is okay to not talk every day. When I was 17, if I didn’t talk to my bff at least once a day, there was some beef. Now I take value in the conversations of a few texts, the random “can I Facetime you right now” at 1 am texts, the updates, the tags in memes.
I have learned that friendship is not linear, and neither will the paths we walk during our 20s. And that’s okay. I have friends getting promotions, friends starting their own businesses, friends in law school, friends with babies, friends teaching English all over the world. A few years ago, I think I would have resented them for not reaching out to me. But I’m glad I’m over this phase, and I am nothing but excited for them as they open new chapters, reach new goals, and progress in their lives. I hope they all know I miss them and think about them.
4. If the Ticket is Cheap, Book It.
This doesn’t have to be a plane ticket. Maybe it’s a big move across the country, maybe a career change, maybe it’s anything you need. All I’m saying is. Don’t wait. Do it now. But seriously. I may not know much, and I may be in a lot of debt. But I do know that life is really short. In my first weeks in Europe in June of 2016, I lost a friend to heroin. In June of 2017, I was in Sevilla, Spain with my brother and Adrian when I heard my grandfather passed away.
Life is really an incredible gift. My “childhood” fears were always rooted in what if I don’t see the world before I die, and while I’ve only seen two continents so far, I’m well on my way to living life in full motion.
5. The Brits Aren’t as Great As We Think They Are
No seriously. If you know me, then you know how OBSESSED I was with One Direction and my fantasy of the United Kingdom and a British Hunk. Essentially they’re just the Americans of Europe. They’re drunk obnoxious tourists, just like us all over the dang continent, especially Poland. No hard digs. I love my British mates and their incomprehensible accents.
6. Learn Hello, Please, & Thank You In a Country’s Native Language
If you travel abroad, promise me you will learn these three words. Americans are incredibly blessed with having English as a first language, we can go anywhere in the world and communicate perfectly. It shows so much respect to attempt the language of the country you’re visiting, even if it just a few words.
7. Book the Over Night Train, Bus, Ferry, You Can Sleep Later
Some of my favorite memories traveling have been overnight rides between cities, only to arrive completely exhausted. You save money on a hotel, can barely walk you’re so tired and have the best laughs in foreign cities.
8. Doctors in America are More Comfortable (And I think Better)
Look, if you’re going to move abroad, let’s just face the facts. Doctors visits are your worst nightmare. The different health care systems, different insurance systems, different ways of treating things, different pharmacy systems, and then the language barrier. If you can avoid getting sick, I highly recommend it!!!!! But seriously, do check-ups and regular doctor visits at home if you can.
9. Using the Internet to Make Friends Isn’t Weird!!!!!
It’s not weird. It’s not weird abroad and it’s not weird at home. It’s not weird to make friends online and meet partners online. It’s 2018. Using Facebook, Tinder, Bumble, Twitter, Instagram! Meet people. Get to know people not from your state, your country, your age bracket, whose first language isn’t English. It will change your life. And the internet can help you do that.