LUV - The best place in the whole world, no matter where you are, is always Anywhere But Here. Because here is shit. Here is where the skies are always a nondescript shade of grey. Here is where you spend your days fishing teabags out of faded mugs with biros and making painfully inconsequential smalltalk with people who you stopped noticing several years ago. Here is always the dullest, flattest, least romantic place in the entire universe.
But abroad? Different story altogether. When you’re abroad, everything is so vibrant and new. The weather, the money, the food, the smells, the architecture - to go abroad is to be swamped with new experiences. The tiny crack through which you’re used to seeing life suddenly gets blown apart to reveal an all-singing, all-dancing, widescreen, technicolour extravaganza that puts all of your senses on full alert. Going abroad is, without question, the best thing in the entire world.
And the abroad people, oh they know how to live. Look at them, perilously riding their scooters into oncoming traffic and gesticulating wildly as they drink coffee outside and playing boardgames in railway stations and going for a swim in the sea every morning before work. They don’t shuffle around worrying about next week’s presentation and trying to block out the world with tinny second-rate indie music like you. Yep, they’ve got it figured out alright.
Of course, there are downsides to being abroad - like a) coming home in an inconsolable state of misery because you want to live where you’ve just been and b) occasional, mildly explosive food poisoning - but these are always comprehensively outnumbered by the positives. Like seeing new things. And always being slightly out of your depth. And making friends. And the pretty girls. Especially the pretty girls. And the sense that you’re not just aimlessly circling the same nondescript plughole for a lifetime.
I’m always suspicious of people who don’t like seeing different countries. What possible reason, other than small-minded fear of the unknown, could there be for not seeing as much of the world as you can? Going abroad is brilliant, people who go abroad a lot are cool and, by the love of christ, I wish I was anywhere abroad now.
- Stuart Heritage
HAT - Look, I’m from abroad. I’m from all of the abroads - genetically I’m the UN, and my life has been a long slow sweep from the UK to the USA and back via the Mediterranean, South America and the Indian subcontinent. So, believe me, I’m qualified to tell you that abroad is a fucking disgrace. And here’s why:
There’s no Marmite abroad. Even if you secure some Marmite, you’ll never find the right type of bread. Bread abroad comes in two variations: natural rock formation and giant doily, neither of which is conducive to Marmite. Often there’s no butter either - just olive oil, balsamic vinegar, jam and coffee for dunking, which is plainly rubbish.
They don’t do tea well abroad, either (no milk, just ice and lemon). They put cream in their coffee. CREAM. The Spanish make their sweets out of sugar and evil. French MacDonalds burgers taste weird. Mainland European chocolates are all called things like PAEDO-BUM and are made from hazelnuts, wafers and the bones of sad dead dogs. When I stayed with a German family as a teen I had to eat my dinner off a place-mat. Until recently there was no Coca-Cola in Nepal and you had to make do with a syrupy, jitter-inducing nightmare called THUMS-UP. The USA has a fast-track to a coronary called “chicken-fried steak”, which is as appalling as it sounds, and some Mediterranean countries do things called “pea cakes” which I won’t go into because presumably you’ll want to eat again at some point in your life.
They’re too jolly, they have no boundaries, their Speedos are too tight, and the males ones want to masturbate near you on beaches. Oh, and some of them don’t speak a word of English.
For it to be this fucking sunny before I’ve had coffee is plain uncivilised.
So Bilbao is forty-nine kilometres away? That’s what, six miles? Eighty-five? Can I drive my car under the bridge with the three-metre height limit? What do you mean, I’m only 3cm dilated? I JUST WANT A PINT OF BEER.
Hairy Japanese bastards.
HONKY PONKY YA-YA PIF! That’s how all adverts abroad go, and they’re on allthefuckingtime. There’s also a preponderance of dubbed US shows, the watching of which is a singularly unsettling experience - but the most disturbing thing about TV abroad is the news, which zooms in on dead bodies with gay abandon every thirty seconds.
After the unique British wry, about-to-throw-myself-off-Beachyhead-or-am-I? sense of humour, people abroad - with their abiding love of Benny Hill, Fawlty Towers and fascism - can seem simple and over-earnest. This is because they are.
And what? Just because I’m beige I can’t be wildly xenophobic in offensively inaccurate broad strokes? You racists.
- Robyn Wilder