How to maximize your smugness after a European semester abroad
So, you’ve just come back from a semester abroad — or maybe a whole year. You really enjoyed your time there, but now that you’re back in Canada, you’ve realized that’s not enough.
Other people need to know how much better your semester was than theirs. But how do you manage that? Here are The Varsity’s eleven tips for anyone who has been to Europe at any point in their life — and who needs people to know about it.
1. Show off your pictures
Yeah, anyone can google a picture of the Eiffel Tower, but can they Google you with a glass of wine in front of it trying to get an angle that cuts out the thousands of others in nearby cafes and bars doing the same thing? I think not.
2. Mention less popular destinations
Pick obscure places to bring up in conversation, but here’s the trick: this only works after you’ve seen all the popular stuff, so that you can definitely insist it’s overrated.
“Yeah, like Paris was amaaazing but after so much time there I definitely preferred Nantes, it’s just way less touristy, you know?”
3. Lie about what languages you’ve learned
The trick here is to find out quickly what language the other person doesn’t speak, so that you can insist you’ve learned a lot of new phrases from your totally real friends.
“Do you speak any Czech? No? Oh my GGoddd I learned so much, it’s SUCH a beautiful language!”
4. Insist that it was way more than just a vacation
Yeah, you may have been to Europe, but have you’ve lived there? You bought groceries and paid rent; that makes it better, and makes your experience way more legit.
5. Compare everything back home to Europe
Now that you’re back home, you’ve returned to fix all of North America’s problems through your new-found European insight. The trick here is to think outside the box. Out at the bar with friends? Talk about Europe’s totally progressive drinking culture. On the bus? Talk about Europe’s superior public transportation. Out for dinner? Talk about just how much fresher and more organic all European food is. Walking literally anywhere? Talk about how much more walkable those damn fine European cities are.
“Wow, I just can’t get used to Toronto’s downtown anymore, every European city has so many squares and such an extensive metro, it’s honestly so much better.”
6. Don’t let anyone out-Europe you
When talking to anyone, find out quickly if they’ve been to Europe before. If they have, you’ve got to shut that down right away. Try to see if they’ve spent as much time abroad as you. Turn your weeks into months if you have to. And never deny going to a place in any given city; you’ve seen so much, it’s hard to remember, but you’ve definitely been to every museum and seen every site in all those cities you listed.
If they’ve been somewhere you’ve also been, pick a different month and insist that the vibe is totally different.
“Yeah, Vienna in the summer was cool, you were there too? Really filled with tourists though… Honestly, Vienna in the winter is sooo different, it has those beautiful Christmas markets, I really prefer it in the winter, too bad you couldn’t go.”
7. Try to move the conversation East so you can appear totally cultured
London, Paris, and Amsterdam are soo mid-2000s. You, a true European, have travelled to crazy obscure places such as Budapest and Prague. Careful, you don’t want to move too East; you still want people to be jealous, so don’t mention Belarus or Moldova.
“Oh, you’ve been to Budapest? Have you been to Bucharest though? No? Ohhh my God, I used to love Budapest, but it’s just way too corporate now, Bucharest still feels like authentic and real. You should really go some time!”
8. Compare Europe to other parts of Europe
Nothing says ‘experienced European’ more than contrasting the different cities you’ve been to. For example, talk about how the night life is totally different from city to city. Act like you’re informing people of something interesting when you compare the clubs in Belgrade and Budapest. But remember, even though Europe is so amazingly diverse, it’s still nothing like Canada, and Toronto definitely has a worse clubbing than even the worst in Europe.
“Yeah, North Europe and South Europe are sooo different, it’s crazy. But I loved both Barcelona and Edinburgh, just in different ways, it’s so hard for me to choose! I love all the friends I made in both!”
9. Try to be sly in your bragging
People don’t like talking to smug bastards. Avoid using the word ‘abroad too much; people will catch on to what you’re doing. Use fictional European friends and events as an avenue for talking about your time there.
“Yeah, me and Andreas got sooo drunk in Budapest… oh I didn’t mention Andreas? He’s my German friend. My friends in Budapest were from all over Europe. Anyway, we got sooo wasted in public, but it wasn’t a problem because of Europe’s superior drinking culture and the convenient public transportation…”
10. Be as general as possible so nobody can disagree
If all else fails, talk about things like ‘the vibe,’ ‘the spirit,’ ‘the people’ and ‘the culture.’ It’s important that you make sure that they know, whatever it is, you’ve been there and experienced it, and they haven’t and are missing out.
“Honestly, like, have you been to Europe? For more than a month though? Yeah, see, there’s just such a different way of life there, it’s honestly something you can’t even understand without living there. I can’t really describe it to you, but I don’t think I can get used to Canada ever again.”
11. Become European
This is probably most important. What use is going to Europe just to come back a Canadian?
Measure your height in centimeters. Use the 24-hour clock. Remember, all your friends are European, and you now have authentic European friends in every city. Always insist that you are planning to move ‘back’ eventually. You can’t stay here, a European trapped in Canada!
I hope some of you take these tips to heart. What’s the point of doing anything in life if you can’t prove to anyone it was worth doing? That semester abroad? Stretch it out for years if you can. This is now the most interesting thing about you. Hold onto it for dear life.