For many Brown students, going abroad is a defining characteristic of junior year, and the majority of these adventure-seekers do so for the fall semester. However, there are a number of us who, for whatever reason, decide to go abroad in the spring. Perhaps it’s a desire to do something after it’s considered “cool” (definitely not) or because of a concentration requirement (probably), but these students are out there. We are two of them.
While the thought of returning to Brown after a semester and a summer is unbelievably exciting, there are a bunch of things that we’ll have to anticipate upon our return. Here are a few of them:
1. Explaining to everyone that you were actually gone last semester and not simply a hermit in Providence.
You know those people who you met during your first week at Brown or during freshman year that you don’t really know, but still feel obligated to say hi to regardless? Well, those people probably have no idea that you were gone last spring — in fact, they might even think you’ve been avoiding their eye contact around campus. This results in a burning need to tell these folks that you were abroad, followed by the clear understanding that they don’t really care. This makes the return to campus social life a little more awkward than anticipated, because after you say you were abroad and they say their semester went well, there isn’t much more to discuss. But at least they don’t think you were a hermit.
2. Keeping your abroad stories to a minimum.
Oh, you went to the beach this summer? That reminds me of the time I went skinny-dipping in the Mediterranean while tripping on shrooms that are only grown in Morocco. Sorry, I can’t help myself… but for the sake of the sanity of the unfortunate souls who were stuck on American soil last semester, I’ll try.
3. Discovering the new stores on Thayer.
“WHOA there’s a new kabob place on Thayer!!?”
“Uh yeah, it’s been done for 6 months…”
Shit went down while we were abroad. Or rather, shit went up: 257 Thayer was built up from the pile of rubble that made walking up the street into an obstacle course. And while we were away discovering that Mediterranean food does not all taste like East Side Pockets and Au Bon Pain can’t even pretend to pass for French cuisine, we missed the inauguration of some new places to grab
drunchies lunch. Skewers popped up in the old Thayer St. Cleansers (RIP), though my friend assured me that its kaboobs aren’t anything to call home about, and the Asian Café swooped in to replace Spats. Coming back to these glittering new storefronts are like opening presents on Christmas morning, if what you wanted for Christmas was a glorified Keeney and some “vegetarian falafel.”
4. Rediscovering Providence.
It’s easy to get complacent and to never leave College Hill, but after having spent five months trying to engage with a new place and explore the goings-on, we’re hoping that spirit carries over to our lives as Brown students. Who needs a passport when you have free RIPTA rides?
5. Finally getting over Spring Weekend FOMO.
Nah, really wasn’t that hard considering we probably had just as good of a view of Hudson Mohawke as you did.
6. Figuring out the BearBucks exchange rate.
A significant part of abroad was spent checking the exchange rate and figuring out how much money you’re actually spending — and subsequently ignoring this and pretending everything is in American dollars. It’s tough to break this habit, so we anticipate continuing it with Brown’s currency, BearBucks. (Brown is basically its own country — we even a native language, so naturally we have our own currency.) When the price of a meal credit seems as unstable as Greece’s economy, it’s critical to keep up with the BearBucks exchange rate — until you realize you can eat FroYo for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
7. Realizing how unprepared you are for winter.
One incredible side effect of going abroad in the spring is that you miss, well, spring. And in Providence, spring means winter for 90% of the time. While we’ve heard some are still traumatized by last year’s brutal winter, we can’t really relate… sorry. If you’re keen on avoiding winter just as much as we were, you might want to consider checking out the Southern Hemisphere and having two full summers in 2015 (!!!).
8. Reuniting with some of the coolest people on the planet.
Being abroad was great, but we missed this wonderful place. Definitely feels good to be back with all of you crazy-talented, interesting, and weird people.
Images via Charlotte Bilski and Kate Storey-Fisher.