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The Orion

Orionite Abroad: Dating your destination

Color Me British
Michelle Manera stops at The Tea Cozy in Brighton, England. Photo courtesy of Michelle Manera.

Choosing where to study abroad is a bit like finding someone to date. You want somewhere warm and welcoming. You want a challenge that makes you grow, but not one that is too difficult to deal with.

The point is, even if you have a list of what you do and don’t want, whatever place you choose will surprise you.

Choosing my destination was based on two factors: money
and my major, English literature. All of the other factors just fell into place and make charming memories and stories to tell.

One of the first things I observed in England was how much Britons talk about the weather. The British climate can go from sunshine to hailstones in a matter of minutes, which sparks all sorts of angry remarks and desperate bargains with God.

I expected this before my departure from home, but not the pleasant weather I experienced. The last three times I’ve gone to London have been marked by sunshine and only a few gales of wind similar to the tornado in “The Wizard of Oz.” Overall, they were splendid trips.

Another surprise I’ve encountered is how obsessed Brighton’s residents are with fire prevention.

Every door has a sticker that reads, “Fire door keep shut.” I was warned of inspectors who would fine us if we left our doors ajar. Even the towels have tags that read, “Keep away from fire.” Though I’m somewhat perplexed when I read these signs, I love how many charming little quirks my temporary seaside home has.

Be prepared to be surprised when choosing your destination.

Notice the little things when you get there. The details create the atmosphere you will feel when reminiscing.

Don’t forget to look for details in your university’s town. Your first visits to big cities like London and Rome are very exciting, but immersion in the local culture can never be overdone.

The goal is to make a tourist think you’re a local and ask you for directions. As long as you want to accomplish that goal in the city you choose, that city is the best choice for you.

You’re in for a relationship, whether it be for a few months or a year, so choose based on personality and appearance. Just don’t forget to be surprised and enjoy the little details of daily life, too.

Michelle Manera can be reached at [email protected] or @michelle_manera on Twitter.

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