Going abroad is one of the most important choices in your life, outside of choosing a mate and picking a brand of American cheese. But what does the city you chose say about you as a person? Well, I'm glad I rhetorically used that device, because I'm about to tell you:
You didn’t apply for abroad programs until late in the game, because that’s just how you do everything, which sounds cool but is actually very stressful. You have always kind of considered yourself a surfer, even though you grew up outside of Dallas, and only know the terms from Kelly Slater’s Pro Surfer for Playstation 2. If you’re smart, you applied to New South Wales, so you don’t have to do work and can actually try and pretend to surf. If you’re not smart, you applied to University of Sydney, which is actually where all the smart kids go, and thus you will spend most of your time feverishly trying to understand Australian politics and type in Australian English Word Docs, while all the other kids go from Coogee Beach to Scruffy Murphy's to The Star casino to get comped drinks past 2am.
"Did you know that the Australian Open is played in Melbourne", you tell people often, after you finish talking about how Aussie Rules Football is the best sport of all time to watch live (Go Dees!), and then get into this rather detailed move on how Sydney is like New York, but Melbourne is the cultural center of Australia, more of a combination of the best parts of Boston and Chicago, but with a climate like LA, and you’d totally move back here if you could get a work permit, but that seems hard and, well, you haven’t really looked into it, but you will eventually.
You care enough about your reputation as an individual that you didn’t want to apply to the Australian programs, as those are too conventional. You enjoy sailing and have one parent who owns a boat, though you hardly ever go on it, because that would mean you have to hang out with Kathy too, AND YOU HATE KATHY BECAUSE SHE’S SO DAMN SMUG. Ironically, you’re deathly allergic to kiwis.
Christchurch, New Zealand
You experimented briefly with wearing a bandana in the Jimi Hendrix style, wear a lot of corduroy, and have a thing for large, friendly dogs that require an alarming amount of walking. You often talk about how big city life moves too fast, and, after a few drinks, tend to idly muse aloud about how many people in those huge cities just die alone without anyone knowing or caring. Also, you applied too late to get into the Auckland program.
You’re extremely interested in being close to the Nordic social, economic, and cultural hub. You’ve long had an infatuation with the inner workings of the Nobel Committee and with learning how the government of Sweden and the Swedish monarch operate hand-in-hand (you heard all the girls in Sweden are tall and blonde and speak perfect English, and you kind of think you’re going to be able to do sex with them).
You are either a straight girl from New Jersey who kind of wanted to major in art history, but really just wanted to go make out on the dance floor at Central Park with Italian guys; or a gay guy from New Jersey who actually is majoring in art history; or a straight guy named Chad who kind of accidentally lucked into being one of only, like, three available American guys for the straight girls to go back to when they tire of making out with Italian guys at Central Park. You ate the Prosciutto Arrosto e Salsa Verde at I Due Fratellini four times a week.
You tell everyone you love Fellini films, even though you’ve definitely only seen La Dolce Vita once in class, and you secretly thought it was boring. You want to own a Vespa, but you can’t afford it, so you have a gently used Piaggio. You pronounce words like prosciutto, mozzarella, and eggplant Parmesan in an infuriating way, though, to be fair, you did that before you went to Rome.
You often mention shows you’ve DVR’d from BBC America for no reason while in conversations about trail mix at Whole Foods. You like to wrap things in newspaper, have a favorite EPL team (Chelsea if you really don’t care about soccer, Arsenal if you wear hair product, QPR if you’re just trying to be different), and say “Cheers”, even though you grew up in Kansas.
Originally, you were very excited to learn Czech, and walk across all of those beautiful bridges, and wear hilariously ironic Czech Me Out and Praha Drinking Team tees, but then you realized that Czech is kind of difficult, grew tired of eating pork knuckle, and, next thing you know, you ended up spending all of your time at Bohemia Bagel, watching American expats talk about Tomas Rosicky and real estate in Stare Mesto. You have an averagely-full beard.
You took German in high school, and thought going to a place called the “City of Dreams” and the “City of Music” would mean you were constantly being serenaded in a dreamy swirl of delicious beer and apfelstrudel. This was all before you realized Austrians are essentially just poor-humored Germans who are alarmingly good at skiing.
You like beer. A lot. Like I know people always say that, but you’re different. You’re into Pils, and Helles, Marzens, Dunkles, Bocks, Doppelbocks, Weissbiers, and Weizenbocks. All of them. Sometimes you feel bad about the snarky reviews you leave on beer articles, but did that writer live in Schwabing for six months, right around eight years ago? Wait, they did? Shit.
You went through a stage where you only wore extremely high black boots and black overcoats with hand-stitched skull patches and listened to NDT, Medieval Metal, and Trance. And even though you’re now a financial consultant, you still occasionally rebel by not shaving every day.
You’re a foodie, though you (publicly) hate that term, and (privately) love it. You get visibly upset when people talk about Canadian French, because it’s “very clearly not the same thing”. You own four cheese boards, two of which are shaped like France. Once, during a low moment, you almost stole a Le Creuset Dutch oven from Sur La Table.
Anywhere in Israel
You are clearly Druze, because, if you were actually Jewish, you’d know you could go for free before you turn 25 thanks to that Birthright program.
You have a beautiful singing voice and often wear clothing that doesn’t make sense now, but will in, like, two years.
You’re a large fan of steak and/or washed up Lakers.
You live in fear of people constantly hitting you in the pen15.
Seoul, South Korea
Your thirst for cutting edge peer-to-peer sharing platforms is insatiable. Your iTunes is littered with random K-pop songs, which you swear you “never remember downloading”, even though they show up in your Top 25 Most Played. You also have a weird thing for bridge fountains.
You wanted to be on The Real World, and this felt like the next closest thing. Weirdly, you don’t own a single pair of boat shoes.
Capetown, South Africa
You have one of those screensavers on your computer that shows the most dramatically beautiful confluence of ocean and cliffs, and you are openly excited about telling people you took that picture. You own a vuvuzela that you have turned into a beer bong.
Mexico City, Mexico
You are weirdly cool, have expensive-looking clothing that is slim-fitting, and can pull off those male scarves that seem to get other people beat up. You eat beef tongue tacos, and know what escamole is, and somehow that doesn’t scare you. You’re also always just slightly afraid you’re going to be kidnapped.
Buenos Aires, Argentina
You are always impossibly offended when you order a 22oz steak and a bottle of red wine in America, and the bill is over $21.
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Ever since you came back, you’ve been doing a ton of squats and spending lots of time staring at your butt in the mirror. You own three copies of City of God on Blu-ray, in case you spill cachaca on two of them.
Kevin Alexander is executive editor of Thrillist Food/Drink, and he went abroad to Australia, where he tried to surf exactly zero times. Follow him to night terrors about sharks @KAlexander03.