The misconceptions about Europe and life abroad are endless.  Preparing for your first time moving overseas can confuse and quickly irritate you, as attempts to sift through the internet can potentially feed you nonsense, lies, impractical, and plain stupid advice.  Here are my 6 misconceptions about life in Europe.

  1. You need to buy new hair appliances.

    So this is the most tangible misconception on my list, and irritates me to NO end.  I am as anal-retentive about my hair as possible.  I don’t put unnatural products on it, and I constantly am applying hair masks and reparative creams to keep it healthy.  Terrified from all the hair appliance horror stories, when going to Europe the first time I left all of my American-wired hair appliances at home, and purchased cheap new ones to use while abroad.  After going back and forth so often, and burning out cheap appliances, eventually I found appliances that were nice and I stuck with, ad just use those all the time, with a mix of country plugs- I just always keep a universal adapter on me.  
    Never have I had an issue with burning hair.  The voltages may be different in the appliances, but most come with build in converters when you use an adapter. 
    If you are concerned about whether your appliances will function properly or burn your hair off, start off at a low temperature, and raise it as you need!

  2. You’re going to gain weight (I’m looking at you, Italy)

    Gaining weight while abroad could be a real problem, but it doesn’t have to be.  Especially living in a city like Florence, where the city is easily walkable, putting in 4 miles a day can become the norm depending how far you live from work/class.  Yes, drinking more does happen which means weight could be gained, but staying active is easy.  Walks, runs, hikes, and just traveling in general will keep you moving and active.  Read How to Avoid the Study-Abroad 15 for more fun ideas on keeping the weight off, if you need a little extra help.

  3. Everyone will speak English.

    I’m not sure why, but often people I talk to tell me how surprised they are by the language barrier.  “We just thought everyone would speak English!”  You’re traveling to another country where the main language (unless you are in the UK) is not English, so a language barrier shouldn’t exactly shock anyone.  
    There are a significant amount of people who speak English in large tourist spots.  With so many visitors who aren’t going to learn an entire language for 2 weeks of vacation, it does make the locals’  lives a little easier to know the “universal language”.  But if you’re looking for a true authentic experience, you’re going to have to step away from the English menus.  Knowing a few crucial phrases never hurts, and knowing the basics of food is always a great idea.

  4. Just being here will “open your eyes”

    View of the arno from Ponte Trinita

    Europe does all those amazing things and show you a new way of life, open new doors, meet new people, etc., but not innately.  There are plenty of people who travel to Europe every day for months at a time, expecting for their eyes to “be opened” but really just finding their own niche and not learning anything new.  These are the people who spend significant time in a country and go out of their way to not learn the language, or eat the local food, or try and hang out with the locals. Yes, traveling to Europe can change you, but it will take effort.

  5. You won’t miss home.

    Just because you’re in an amazing places with enriching history and culture, doesn’t mean you won’t miss your family and hometown from time to time.  I just recently had pangs of wanting to be back home as Hurricane Matthew tore through my hometown of Saint Augustine, wreaking havoc.  Wishing I could have been there for family and friends I was forced to show my solidarity through social media.  Things like ranch, Cheetos, Dr. Pepper, are all missed as well.

  6. Living in Europe is “glamorous”

    In Venice, Italy

    I live in what many people consider to be one of the most beautiful countries in the world, in a cultural epicenter.  I love it every day and remain eternally grateful this is where my life has carried me, but let me be clear, it is far from glamorous.  I was late to work the other morning and had to rush around some tourists.  I overheard the wife mention how fast I was walking, her husband goes “oh yeah, we forget people have to get to work here”. Yes sir, we do, otherwise I wouldn’t eat.  
    Life in Europe is amazing, but it’s still work hard, play hard- for me at least. (:

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