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Undergraduates, welcome back to the 2021 spring semester! We know this past year has been challenging, so we appreciate that none of you took a gap year to stop the money faucet from flowing into our grubby little fingers. By coming back for classes, you entrusted us with your health, safety, and most importantly, your tuition money. And for that, we thank you.
During the past year, we had the opportunity to adjust our courses to reflect the “new normal” we find ourselves in. Unfortunately, we wasted that time counting the millions that were rolling into the hedge fund we ostensibly market as a school, so everything is pretty much the same. But there’s still some good news: with a horrifically botched COVID-19 vaccine rollout and an international academic partnership that ensures we cash in wherever you are, now is the perfect time to “a-broaden” your horizons!
Studying abroad is a valuable experience for any student. It expands your worldview and introduces you to so many ideas that American political discourse insists are impossible fantasies, like universal healthcare, a minimum wage you can actually live off of, and secondary schools where half the graduating class hasn’t been gunned down in a mass shooting or overdosed on prescription painkillers. When the semester is over, it’s our hope that you return home with these deep cultural experiences and then completely disregard them. Check your new-found perspectives on how a healthy society operates at the door, but feel free to hang onto that new-found love of espresso! Caffeine is the only way you’ll make it working 90 hours a week at a law firm to give ExxonMobil the legal framework to frack the planet into extinction while your boss calls you “toots” regardless of your gender.
Studying abroad also allows you to become a more well-rounded person, exposing yourself to art, music, literature, and culture that simply don’t exist in the States because we don’t value those things at all. As you take in an experimental play or spend a lazy Sunday wandering around a museum, you’ll be fascinated that other countries seem to provide for their citizens rather than stockpiling fighter jets for the impending water wars. You might not know it now, but it’s the little things that will come in handy when you’re back home working seven different gig-economy jobs to pay off your eighty-five thousand dollars in student loans. We’ve found that our graduates make more money in tips at UberEats if they know how to pronounce “pomme frites.”
If the idea of spending a semester overseas overwhelms you, relax! While you will undoubtedly ask yourself questions like, “How come the Japanese don’t have a word for ‘co-pay’,” “Why does no one in the the UK worry about the cost of an ambulance,” and “I’ve been at this mall in Germany for three hours—how come I haven’t heard gunshots,” you’ll quickly acclimate to their superior way of doing things. While it may initially seem strange that workers in France seem to understand the value of withholding their labor to receive a liveable wage or that McDonald’s employees in Denmark have unlimited sick days, you’ll come to understand that their society is just set up better than ours. That’s why you’re studying abroad—to get a taste of what life could be like before returning home to a place that’s far, far worse. There is so much to learn, and also, so much to ignore. And that part is essential. Don’t you dare try to bring those values home in your carry-on, next to your Oktoberfest keychain and half-eaten bag of magic mushrooms (wink wink)!
While the aforementioned countries are some of the more popular study-abroad destinations, don’t sleep on India, Bangladesh, or Pakistan. Spending a semester in a less-visited region offers you the opportunity to learn about America’s unique position as the root cause of so much of the world’s oppression, poverty, and pain. It’s one thing to read about how companies like Nike and Nestlé exploit children to save a few dollars in their supply chain, but it’s quite another to see it up close and in person. Spending some time abroad will open your eyes and change you in a way that can only be reversed over the course of the plane ride back home by pounding Xanax and watching Sex and the City 2 on loop. They say you can’t un-ring a bell, but the thousands of graduates who have gone on to work for the CIA disagree!
As much fun as you’ll have overseas, eventually the semester will end, and it will be time to come home to the hellscape that made you the ugly American you are. But no matter the sneaking suspicion you have that capitalism gave you a raw deal, you’ll always look back fondly on your semester abroad, especially when you’re begging your former co-workers to kick in a few bucks for your GoFundMe. Tough break, looks like Shelly in Accounting got cancer first, so people are a bit strapped right now…
This post appears courtesy of our February 2021 publishing partnership with Functionally Dead. Every month, Widget partners with an organisation to feature one post/week from their contributors, members, or so on. View the other posts from our partner’s contributors here.
the video game Disco Elysium, the podcasts Champagne Sharks and Citations Needed, the streaming service MeansTV, the book Why I Am Not a Feminist: A Feminist Manifesto by Jessa Crispin
we also have a Patreon that we use to pay our contributors, so please kick in if you can to help support leftist writers and artists! – https://www.patreon.com/funcdead