You’re in your art history class. Your professor pulls up a picture of the Mona Lisa. You hear a sudden gasp from behind you. You turn around and see a junior who looks like they’re about to explode as they raise their hand faster than the speed of sound. The professor calls on them. The junior responds, “Well, when I studied abroad in Paris I went on the most amazing date. We went to a local patisserie and ate fromage. He then grabbed me by the hand and told me, ‘I have something to show you.’ He blindfolded me and all of a sudden I was in front of the Mona Lisa. She had that Mona Lisa smile. One day I hope to go back to Paris. Being there really helped me discover myself.”
As a current junior, I was ready to have a share of study abroad stories. I was going to go to film school in Prague. I was going to learn Czech and study the greats! But reality struck, my study abroad was cancelled. Oh, the horror! I would not only not be going to Prague, but not even returning to Ohio until the spring of 2021. But, I knew I could not sit and sulk in the loss of what would’ve been a great addition to me, myself, and I. I had to do something, something so selfless, so admirable, so considerate, everyone would praise me for years to come: a step-by-step guide on how to find a new personality trait and obtain the aura of an interestingly unbearable person who studied abroad without ever leaving your childhood home.
1. Old-timey accent
My first suggestion is to add a little something to that bland American accent of yours. A Transatlantic twang to make everything you say sound like it’s a part of a 1940s newsreel? Sold! Incorporate British dialect by calling the trashcan the dustbin, the trunk the boot, sneakers trainers, sweaters jumpers and so on….cute! Maybe you’re instigating a revival of the classic 20th century New York Jew accent, sounds good to me boss! Oh, you just happen to fall into an impersonation of Arnold Schwarzenegger in Junior (1994) when he is in drag at a pregnant woman’s home? Now that is awesome, I must say!
You’ve got to look the part of a beautiful cultured genius and the possibilities are endless. Find a signature piece like a hat, an elegant floor length coat, or a little purse that only contains a copy of Junior (1994) on VHS. Whatever this piece is, you’re never to be seen without it and of course, it needs to have an elaborate backstory. Was it handmade in Italy by the oldest seamstress in all the land? Was it cursed by a scary ghost, or bestowed upon your great-grandmother by a long lost lover she met overseas? Get creative, but make sure no one thinks you’re a fraud as all your hard work of curating this wonderful persona would be flushed down the toilet.
3. Find a niche
The great thing about adding to your personality that isn’t just studying abroad is that you can go beyond the restraints of simply having lived in another country for 3-5 months, easy! For example, you can learn absolutely everything about an extreme niche. Put every movie in Arnold Schwarzegger’s mid-career comedic-run to heart and throw in some fun facts too! Did you know Arnold went the method route for Junior (1994) and actually got pregnant! Become an expert on underwear trends through time (I did actually have a book on this when I was younger). Dedicate yourself to writing in depth Wikipedia pages on weather patterns that affected crops in the early to mid 20th century. Learn how to ride a unicycle and make it your main means of transportation on campus! Be able to quote Junior (1994) word for word on the spot, Arnie and DeVito impressions included et al.
This is the time! The opportunity is now! The second wave of rebranding is here (the first being entering college). You no longer have to fit into the mold of simply branding yourself as someone who studied abroad, this is the chance to become even more unbearable!