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Europe According to Emma is a weekly column written by Emma Dell a University of Denver student currently studying abroad in Berlin, Germany. Read other installments here.


When you think about it, studying abroad is really no different than going to college for a semester. You still have a daily life, semi-regular routine, and all of your necessities in your room or apartment or wherever you live.

It’s not really like the vacation that everyone treats it as, which is why when you catch yourself doing weird things every day that you would never do on the daily at home, it might be time to take a step back and reevaluate your life.

For instance, it’s really no wonder that the “study abroad 30” is a thing when your diet abroad consists of:

Chocolate for breakfast

Everyone knows European chocolate is better, and it’s right there on my nightstand, and the caffeine is a great start to the morning, and did I accidentally just eat the entire day’s calories without getting out of bed.

Lunch, afternoon snack, dinner, after dinner munchies, midnight snack…

The days must be longer over here. And it’s hard to resist that bakery on the street corner… or the bakery in the train station… or the bakery by the bus stop…

Alcohol every night

Doesn’t even need an explanation. That can’t be healthy.

I know what you’re thinking: So what if I gain a little weight while abroad? If you don’t come back with love handles you’re doing it wrong, am I right?

Well, yes, you are. But there are even more unhealthy habits that have nothing to do with your waistline but are definitely still not normal. Let’s address those. Like the fact that:

Washing your sheets becomes a bimonthly occurrence

I know that laundry is crazy expensive (because apparently Europeans like to conserve water or something) but come on. Laundry is still a thing that needs to happen. Simply remaking your bed does not count as actually making it clean.

Doing 25 sit-ups and calling that a good workout

Just because you don’t have your gym to go to anymore, it doesn’t mean that your daily walking and that pathetic attempt you called a “workout” counts as staying healthy. Make your friends start sending you motivational photos or something. Write yourself passive-aggressive sticky notes and put them on all of the surfaces in your room. Make an effort here. You’re eating way too much for to be an acceptable fitness routine.

Randomly smoking (even though you’re not a smoker)

I really don’t understand this one, but it’s shockingly normal for people who never smoked in the States to go abroad and suddenly pick up the habit. Maybe it’s because they want to look suave like the locals or simply because it’s acceptable here, I’m not really sure. Either way, it’s weird, unhygienic, and uniquely study abroad-esque.

Good news is, even though you might be pretty gross right now, it is only temporary, and nobody expects anything different. Only a few short months until you can get back to real life and work off the badges of honor you and your unhygienic ways have earned while you were gone.

Enjoy it while it lasts: it’s not every year you’ll get a four month vacation.

feature image via iStock