As the sun shines through the floor-length windows onto the graffiti-ed, urine-covered walls, I awake to find myself, once again, in the wrong hostel bed, in the wrong hostel room, very possibly in the wrong hostel itself.
On the floor is the blonde Australian boy who was too nice (or too disgusted) to wake the snoring, drooling American girl who had inadvertently taken his bed the night before.
As I wiped the dried spittle from my face, there was the slight taste of schnitzel and a vague memory from the previous evening of my Irish flat-mate running from the German police â€“â€“ and straight into a wall.
The whole time I just couldnâ€™t help thinking: â€œDid I leave my passport in Amsterdam?â€
Welcome to study abroad.
In todayâ€™s world, there are few students who donâ€™t seize the opportunity to ditch America for a semester or two during their university career. And why not? With Chinese food that doesnâ€™t come in a take-out box, Euro-trash clubs and sleazy men shouting pick up lines at you that they got from â€œJersey Shore,â€ there is very little not to love.
There are, as always, a few key things that the savvy traveler should keep in mind when abroad. For example: itâ€™s not America. So people are definitely going to like it when you wear your American pride T-shirts, quote â€œFamily Guy,â€ and talk about guns. They love it, actually. Do it all the time.
Another big issue is dealing with overly concerned parents. Obviously, you left the country to get away from them, so you donâ€™t want to deal with them thinking that youâ€™re going to be the next Amanda Knox. But Iâ€™ve found that if you sign them up for every U.S. Embassy travel alert, then they wonâ€™t call you frantically every single day to warn you about a bomb in Egypt when youâ€™re in Costa Ricaâ€¦I promise.
Also, be sure to fix your friends up with as many foreigners as possible, even though they may not appreciate it until later. I really recommend the Italians.
One time I was staying in this seaside town called Sorrento with two friends, and I managed to score us three really good-looking Italian guys. But, of course, people always have to have a problem with everything.
My friend Dimple was all, â€œMorgan, I canâ€™t believe you set me up with someone from the mafia.â€
And Jenny was all, â€œYou keep setting me up with drug dealers blah blah blahâ€
And I was all, â€œJenny, youâ€™re from Wales. You should be glad I didnâ€™t set you up with a sheep.â€
But it ended up alright because now we all laugh about how they stole 200 pounds from Jenny and tried to put Dimple in a trunk.
Such precious memories.
The point is to seize the moment. Youâ€™re only young once, so take advantage of the opportunity to go explore a new country and culture.
Whether you find yourself in Peru or Denmark, the most important thing not to panic when things go wrong. Falling asleep on a train and waking up somewhere in the middle of the Hungarian wilderness is an essential part of the experience.
Trust me when I say that hitchhiking your way to Portugal and sleeping under a bridge for a night is going to be worth that entire wallet filled with euros you left in that pig farmerâ€™s truck.
So go meet a model named Honey and her record-producer father in Amsterdam and get free VIP tickets to an Arctic Monkeyâ€™s show.
Ditch class for two weeks and traipse around Austria with a group of backpackers you meet at a bus stop.
Go to so many clubs in London that your arms are completely covered in stamps and you are completely broke.
Flirt mercilessly with your waiter and drink free champagne all evening in front of the Pantheon in Rome.
Show off the bruises you get during the annual La Tomatina Tomato Fight in Bunyol, Spain.
Donâ€™t hesitate when a beautiful bartender from Munich asks you if you could delay your flight maybe one more week for some skiing in the Alps.
And heck yes! Kiss that guy that looks exactly like Hugh Grant in the ritzy bar beside the Old Course. If itâ€™s really him, it could just be your ticket out of this two-bit town.
And the caveat to all international experiences: marry a Greek painter you meet on a ship near Mykonos and never ever come home.
Because who needs an education when youâ€™re in love, right?
Awkward times are ahead, my friends. But until we meet againâ€¦Cheers!
Morgan Mayo is a junior natural resources major. Her column appears Wednesdays in the Collegian. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.