4 Life Lessons I Learned From Studying Abroad

4 Life Lessons I Learned From Studying Abroad

America may be land of the free, but being abroad means being liberated from its social norms. Here’s what I learned from living in France for a month-long program:

1—Care Less

Forgot to shave? No one will notice. Don’t feel like wearing a bra? Then don’t wear one. The glorious thing about being abroad is that all the cultural standards that you’re used to, don’t apply. That feeling of anonymity you get in a foreign country can help you realize that no one really cares—they’re too busy stressing about their own problems. The little things that you might mentally obsess over, are completely overlooked by everyone around you. But this doesn’t just apply when you’re in France, where body hair isn’t taboo. Whenever you find yourself falling down a slippery slope of insecurity, remind yourself that no one will pay much attention to your fat roll or greasy hair. Keep your chin up high, and forget the haters. If you feel great, you look great, Fashionista!

2—Slow Down, Savor Time

Having grown up in NYC, where you can find munchies past midnight, there was nothing more shocking than going to France and realizing things just weren’t accessible all the time. Fast food hardly exists, places will close down randomly once a week or in the middle of the day, and you’ll find that almost nothing is open on Sundays. But where does this leave you? You’re forced to organize your time better, you have more time for socialization, and you’re reminded to stop rushing, stop multi-tasking, and just enjoy life.

3—Invest in Your Style

Contrary to popular belief, a universal French-girl style does not exist. French girls merely develop their own fashion tastes, and they don’t let the pressure of being on-trend get to them. Because of that, fast fashion is more for younger teens or the occasional purchase. French girls choose to treat their style more as an art collection, procuring pieces from higher-end brands to keep and treasure for a long time. In America, where we collectively throw out approximately 13 million tons of clothes per year, we should seriously re-consider our shopping habits and adapt the French investment attitude.

4—Invest in Your Skin

The first time I shopped at a French drugstore, I was shocked at how expensive all the products are, because I’m used to the fact that drugstores in America are the G.O.A.T. for cheap makeup. But the French prefer quality over quantity, and view skincare as the most important part of a beauty routine—whether that means getting spa treatments, religiously using serums, or never letting their laziness stop them from taking off their makeup with a micellar water cleanser after a night on the town. If you think about it, the better you take care of your skin, the less anxiety you’ll get over breakouts; and the less you’ll feel the need to hide your bad skin with a slather of makeup. It’s a win-win situation!

What are your study abroad experiences? Let me know in the comments below!