Becoming Friends Through Study Abroad: A Guest Post
Up on the blog today we are taking a break from our usual posts and welcoming a guest writer—Caroline ZuHone. Caroline is one of the voices behind Sippin' Sangria, a website dedicated to travel, study abroad, and global experiences. She graduated with a degree in Spanish from Butler University and she met her co-creator, Lexa, while studying abroad in Spain. The two have since shared many adventures in Spain, the US, and around the globe! Today she is sharing their journey together from studying at the same university to becoming good friends. Without further ado, we present Caroline:
It’s funny - Lexa and I attended the same university with only 4,500 students (you kind of see the same people over and over again), but it took us flying across the Atlantic Ocean to meet in Spain. We shared classes, flights, group dinners, but it wasn’t really until two weeks after we arrived - my birthday- that we became friends. I was turning 21, which wasn’t really a big deal to anyone in Spain. It was during the week, so most people didn’t want to commit to a night out, but Lexa took the lead and organized a trip to Madrid to watch the Real Madrid game. We bought our jerseys, cheered on our team with thousands of other people and drank beer in the streets of Madrid to celebrate the win. It was this night that started our journey as travel buddies.
It didn’t take long for us to realize that our travel styles were in sync. We were pretty chill, didn’t like rushing from tourist attraction to tourist attraction and had a knack for getting ourselves into some funny situations. We like seeing the authentic side of the city - local pubs, grungy walking tours and local art was the name of the game.
I think it’s easy to make friends when studying abroad. Everyone is out of their element, feeling a little overwhelmed and eager to meet new people who want to share similar experiences. It leads to that kind of kindergarten atmosphere again where everyone’s walking up to each other asking if you want to be friends. It’s amazing and so easy to bond with the people you study abroad with; those experiences are so unique to only your travel group. But most of our friends went back to their normal lives when they got home and kept minimal contact with the people they shared four months of adventures with. What kept Lexa and I so close was the fact that we weren’t ready to get back to our normal lives. Something had changed for us during our time in Spain. We weren’t content going back to our college bubble and leaving our sense of adventure for that one amazing semester in college.
Our weekends were spent hanging out with International students or exploring new cities around the Midwest. We quickly began plotting our return to Europe after college graduation. We spent months traveling with no one but each other to talk to, and it just kind of worked (once you’ve sat in a broken down car on the English roadside for two hours waiting on a tow truck and laughing the whole time, you know you’re friends). After all of these shared experiences abroad, it only made sense that we would move to a new city and take on adulting together.
When Lexa got a job offer in Indianapolis, it just seemed like the perfect time for us both to move back and experience life in the city together as roomies. We’ve been able to take the same things that brought us together while traveling- openness to meeting new people, love of adventure and being in sync in the type of things we love to do-to our new lives in Indy. All the skills we gained during our time abroad helped us make new friends in this new city - getting to know different backpackers each night in our various hostels led us to realize it’s ok to strike up a conversation with strangers in a bar, and we’ve gained several groups of friends because of it.
Having an incredibly long list of awkward and stressful situations from our European travels has helped us laugh off any misadventures and be ready to take on anything- whether it’s a new dance class, venturing into a different part of town or trying out new bars (and if you know us, you know it comes with a few wrong turns, some awkward conversations and just mix-ups in general). Our time abroad left us with an incredible bond that can be hard to find if you don’t go through those experiences and challenges together. This bond has helped us become the perfect travel buddies and awesome roommates.