1.

Normal friends will cut chemistry class with you to go grab a coffee instead.

Study abroad friends will cut a whole week.
“Hey, I was thinking we should cut class tomorrow and go to London Oktoberfest… Or we could just cut all week and go to Munich for the real thing.”
“I thought you’d never ask.”

2.

Normal friends get together for a couple of Coronas.

Study abroad friends include the Irish dude who can slam whiskey back like nobody’s business, the new student who can legally drink vodka for the first time because your host country doesn’t have any drinking age limits, and there’s that one Romanian who’s overly eager about absinthe. You learn to be careful around him.

3.

Normal friends find comfort in their day-to-day routine, and you always end up at their favorite dive karaoke bar and sushi restaurant.

Study abroad friends didn’t leave Ohio just to sit in their dorm room. They’ll talk you into a long bus ride to jump out of a plane in Switzerland, they’ll suffer through sketchy alleyways with you to find some bar in Chinatown someone noted for them on the back of a receipt, and they’re willing to risk their health just to eat exotic street food with you. At least when you wonder, “Is this actually meat?” you’re wondering it together.

4.

Normal friends feel impulsive when they grab last minute tickets to a Friday night movie.

Study abroad friends suddenly decide you should all buy plane tickets to Amsterdam, book a sketchy hostel online, throw some (probably not washed) clothes in a bag, and take off the next day.

5.

Normal friends get your language, your slang, and your gestures. Communication is a non-issue.

Your study abroad friends navigate through life with you in a language none of you speak very well. You laugh as you quickly realize you don’t know how to tip, when someone tells you it’s rude to make the peace sign, and when the bus system you thought you had figured out took you on a detour two hours in the wrong direction.

6.

In your group of normal friends, there was that one person who was the “mom” of the group.

Every one of your study abroad friends has to be “mom” at some point to the others in your group. You’ll bond together during Thanksgiving to craft a dinner that is at least somewhat reminiscent of what your family is making back home. You’ll have deep heart-to-hearts about life plans and relationships because the time difference in California makes it tricky to call back, and they step up and make quick decisions with you when planes get delayed or plans fall apart.

7.

When you go back home, your normal friends tolerate your travel stories for a bit, but they really don’t care much about how sketchy your favorite bar was and how great it is that all of the museums were free.

Your study abroad friends know how hard it is to go home. They get that you may be dying to see your family and friends, or let’s face it, Chipotle. They understand firsthand the panic attacks because you don’t want to leave the new city you’ve come to love, the language you’ve been working so hard to master, and the two dollar bottles of wine you nurse every night.

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