Saturday, December 26, 2009

How To Study Abroad

Recently, I decided to study abroad. This is common practice among us college students. There comes a day when, tiring of our daily routine of debauching ourselves into vomit-flecked oblivion, we yearn for the cultural breadth that can only come of debauching ourselves into vomit-flecked oblivion in an entirely different country. It is a powerful call, one no thinking soul can help but heed. Yet many of us college students heed it too.

The next step is to choose which country you want to study abroad in. You may find this difficult. I, for one, am notoriously bad at making choices. I routinely enter a state of deep emotional turmoil when, at the bubble tea establishment, I am faced with the decision between taro and sesame.* The only time I ever found it easy to make a choice was during the last Winter Olympics, when I elected to watch the men’s figure skating finals instead of the Westminster Dog Show.**

My point, students, is that you should put a certain amount of care and energy into selecting the country you feel would enhance your being the most, as a student and as a human. The method I recommend is that of writing up a list of all your core traits, then wadding it into a ball and hurling it at the head of whichever professor most recently said to you (WARNING WARNING WARNING THIS IS A TRUE QUOTE AHEAD), “You need to examinate [sic] how to extrapolate out [sic] the ideopolitical structures.” *** For best results, you should attach the ball to a large heavy object.

Because ultimately, you are not going to pick your study-abroad country based on what you write on a silly old piece of paper. You are going to pick it – as we intellectuals have done since the dawn of academia, back in the Upper Paleolithic, when all the intellectuals were australopithecines**** – based on how comical the accents are. I ended up picking France, not because of the accents, but because I can speak some of the going language (French). This is a handy Travel Aid, in a pinch, if you forget English. This does happen to us, especially if we are a 12-year-old dweeb-a-roonie in front of the object of our 12-year-old dweeb-a-roonie Hot Burnin’ Passion. I myself recall this one time, which I am not going to tell you about.

Anyway, once you have chosen your country, you will need to obtain a student visa. For this purpose you will be summoned to the world’s hottest, smallest, crampedest, filled-with-decaying-France-pamphlets-est room, population 786,392,396, which also happens to be the number of hours you will be required to stand in line, until, at last, you are called to The Window, where you are told – in stern tones – to wait in line. But it’s all worth it when – after you submit to a retinal scan, a finger scan, a CAT scan, a DOG scan, etc. – they finally look at you suspiciously and send you home, because your passport photograph is frankly butt-ugly. Ultimately, assuming you finally DO get a visa, they will remedy this by means of taking a visa photograph of you that is even uglier.

Last but not least, you will be given a wad of French documents that clearly Mean Business, in the sense that they are literally belching flames at you. No person, including a French person, could ever actually READ these documents, but the basic thrust of them is that everything you do overseas, as a foreigner, will be considered “bad” and will result in your being drop-kicked off the nearest clichéd French landmark, unless you will agree to adopt the national opinion that the movie “Amélie” is not really very French at all.

In the end, however, all of this nonsense will be the furthest thing from your mind, because once these happy holidays have faded into the midst, you’ll be off, wending your way toward the destination of your choice. We understand there are foreign languages there. So don’t be shy! Go for it, adventuresome student! You’ll learn to navigate another culture, to question your long-held societal presuppositions, and – if you are remotely worthy as a student – to examinate how to extrapolate out the ideopolitical structures. It will surely be an occasion of great personal growth for you. Best of all, I don’t even have to hear about it.

* You can’t choose. YOU JUST CAN’T.
** In a highly controversial decision, Best in Show that year went to American skater Evan Lysacek.
*** And if you doubt the veracity of this quote, frankly you need your head examinated.
**** These individuals – as you have no doubt guessed – are now teaching in the Sociology department.

©2009 Nicola McEldowney
The Snark Ascending


Michael Hofer said...

I once tried to study abroad.

She objected.

The Old Wolf said...

So is it fair to assume that the preferred destination is "Fwonce"?
Did you bring your birth certificate?
Did you bring your health certificate?
And your vaccination?
And your affidavit?
And your statement from the bank?
Your passport?
Three photographs?
But Mademoiselle, these are not the right size! I told you they must be three by three. Besides, this paper must be notarized...
Come back next week!

Ron H said...

Ah, my six months of studying Swedish in Sweden. The Swedish students in our program spoke better English at the end of the program. We Americans were glad to return to the land of pizza and other English speakers!

Bob said...

Any passport photo which looks even vaguely attractive -- or, in my case, actually like the person it is supposed to represent -- is obviously false and subject to instant rejection...