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Entertaining Visitors Abroad

The "O.G." Prague Girls on our first day in Praha.

You may have met your "study abroad" friends overseas. But how does that play out when they come to visit?

You’ve probably seen the pamphlets, read the articles, browsed the blogs and they all give you that same token line about how the friends you meet abroad you keep for life. Although the statement has become annoyingly repetitive, it is true; those people you rode the metro with to class day in and day out, saw a naked poetry performance with as part of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, and hostel-hopped from one disgusting place to the next along the canals of Amsterdam have the potential to be your lifelong friends.

However, I'm not here to rage on about all the lifelong friends I’ve made, but to tell you about the part two that comes along with these friendships: what happens when your study abroad friends come visit you abroad?

Lovingly deemed my “Prague girls,” Emily from Virginia, Lexi from Colorado and Hannah from Iowa came to visit me this month now that I have moved to England. While we have reunited since we studied abroad in Prague two years ago, this time was different. This was not a quick weekend trip to Iowa for a Hawkeyes game or a surprise weekend in Durango, Colorado for Lexi’s birthday; this was a full-blown European trip to England and it was game time.

In addition to my Prague girls, there was the wildcard player, Katla, originally drafted from the country of Iceland but who “took her talents elsewhere” to America, where she is now friends with Emily in Washington D.C.. She came on the trip as a stranger to all but Emily, but Katla seamlessly integrated into the group and became an MVP in her own right.

There is a lot of pressure here. People are spending thousands of dollars to come and hang out with you.

All of this lead-up may seem tiresome, but really try to think critically about this. There is a lot of pressure here. People are spending thousands of dollars to come and hang out with you. While they do love you, love travel and are as low-maintenance as they come, any quarterback may feel a bit of pressure when the huddle breaks and the play is about to start.

The whole point of this is to try to help to relive some of that pressure, help release the valve a bit. This is a different trip than when you studied abroad. While those memories of '80s/'90s night at Lucerna and piercing my ear at the kitchen table while Tyler the Creator plays at full volume are precious, their trip to see you isn’t a recreation of that. The times you spend abroad are not contingent on that first experience abroad together. It is okay to feel differently about this trip than the others. While I loved having the Prague Girls (now nicknamed on Snapchat the “Great British Bake Off”) here, I now realize how much energy I wasted. So much energy was devoted to trying to play host and make it as perfect and comfortable as Prague felt. In actuality, the trip was never going to feel the same because we all have rose-coloured glasses about that trip to Prague now.

All those details of the trip that seem so funny and great now were somewhat strenuous or even annoying in the moment. Travel is always going to be filled with those ups and downs, which are where so many of our fondest memories come from. The stress and energy is wasted, as these bumps are inevitable, and just because you are hosting does not mean it is your job alone to navigate around them. So for as much as I worried about cramming five girls into my studio, I now remember that we had to climb six floors at least once every day to get to our room in Prague. So I mean even if their trip to England this time was not perfect and idyllic, at least this time we had an elevator.

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Published in Study Abroad Blogs
Kelli Kennedy

Kelli Kennedy is a graduate student at University of York in Comparative and International Social Policy. After multiple short-term study abroad programs during her undergrad, the California native is taking on the winters of England to learn how to change the world.

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