You did it– you crossed the pond, you moved into your apartment (still can’t figure out why the washing machine is next to the sink…), and you picked up a few of those famous Italian scarves. You’re eating prosciutto for lunch, and asking for the vino rosso. You’ve realized that the bus will never be on time, and where the heck is the ice?! You are adjusting to Europe, but the final step to assimilating to European life is to actually live like the locals.
Put the Nike’s in the back of your closet
If there is one way to pick out an American from a European, it is by looking below the knee. Shoes are typically a dead giveaway, so in order to truly be a local, you need to walk like one as well. No matter what city you study in, there are cheap markets and knock off shoe stores. Pick up a pair of gladiator sandals, maybe some high top converses, and once you have your new European kicks on, you will find yourself saying “Ciao”, “Gracias” and “Bonjour” a bit more often.
Go to an aperitivo/tapas/aperitif unless you are heading to London…
Europeans love to eat, and they love to eat a lot of food. (See you have more in common that you thought), and there is typically an aperitivo of some sort (tapas in Spain, aperitif in France) every night –if you are studying in England/Ireland/Scotland, skip the food section and spend your money at the pub, as that is what the locals typically do there–. Find out where one by your apartment is…and go. For between 6-10 euros you can get a drink and an all you can eat appetizer buffet. As you nibble on your bruschetta or tapas, or sip your French champaign, you can meet mingle, flirt (I’ve found all the men in Rome to look like Roman statues, Spain is in a whole different class, and have you heard an Irish or British accent?!), and truly begin to feel like the European that you are.
Go grocery shopping
It is tempting to eat out every night. There is so much good food that you could go to a new restaurant every night (British and Irish students, fast forward to the bar hopping section) and not hit them all before it’s time to go home, but there is one place that can calm down your bank account, as well as make you feel like a local- the grocery store. It’s an eye opening experience to go food shopping in another country. It looks similar, but the labels are funny. A little advice for your first venture would be to bring a dictionary with you so you know what you are buying. Utilizing your kitchen will not only impress your parents, but it will save you money so you can make that last ski trip to Switzerland in December possible.
Do some bar hopping
You are only over here once. Go out, meet new friends, go to different bars. Don’t make the mistake of going to the same bar every night. Every city in Europe has hundred of pubs, bars, and clubs, so try to experience as many as you can. There are drink specials throughout the week. Collect those flyers that will be passed out to you as you walk through Campo di Fiori, Las Ramblas, and Piazza Republica or your cities main spots. They have drink specials that will save you euros. Find the bar the true locals hang out at- chances are it’s the best.
Non Parli Americano
Sure, new languages are hard, and everyone seems to speak enough English to get by, but think how impressed your friends will be when you come home speaking Italian/Catalon/French/Spanish/Czech. Get a phrase book, and greet the shop owners with “Buonasera”, order your food with a casual “Je voudrais”, and pretty soon, every third word out of your mouth will be foreign. You will go home as the most impressive friend in your group, and being bilingual definitely comes along with some bragging rights.