People We Meet When Studying Abroad


One of the pleasures of studying abroad is meeting people from all over the world and hearing their stories. (Courtesy of Emma Kim )

“For me, traveling is about wandering, meeting people you don’t expect, doing things you’ve never done.” This quote, and the inspiration for this article’s topic, comes from Emily Henry’s novel, “People We Meet on Vacation.” The book follows two best friends who travel the world together and the people they meet along the way. This article is about the people I have met along the way of my journeys while abroad.

One of the things I was most excited for when I applied to the study abroad program last fall was the opportunity to meet new people. I knew many of my classmates in the program would be fellow Fordham students, but I was excited to figure out who I would meet along the way of my travels.

The Fordham London Centre has afforded me with some of my closest friends. I met Abbey on the first day of orientation and after knowing each other for only 10 days we booked a non-refundable, three day trip to Amsterdam together. Whether it was the temporality of the study abroad program that pushed us to become so close in such a short amount of time or something else, I now have a friend I wouldn’t have met without this program.

Meeting people who would have otherwise been strangers while traveling is always interesting to think about. You spend a day, an afternoon, an hour with people you just met and within that time you talk about everything from where you’re from to what your aspirations are. Then, at the end of your time together, you part ways, strangers once more.

The people I have met while traveling have made the world feel a little less intimidatingly big and helped bring a new perspective into my life. These are just a few of those whose paths have crossed with mine.

The group of Americans I met while waiting in line for the cafe car on a train in Inverness, Scotland. They brought a douse of familiarity with them as we chatted and waited to warm up with some hot chocolate as views of the Scottish Highlands rolled by.

The family from Florida that traveled around the Douro Valley in Portugal tasting port wine with my parents and myself. We heard about the places they have traveled to and how they were doing in the wake of Hurricane Ian. The guide for the trip also shared his story of first working in social services aiding in a rehabilitation program for drug addicts and then his transition into the tourism industry.

The Scottish couple my dad and I met while taking a cooking class in Lisbon, Portugal who shared stories about their farm and their travels. We spent a leisurely rainy day in the city making good food and having great conversations.

The professional stand up comedian who also doubled as Abbey and my river boat guide in Amsterdam who infused humor into his retelling of the city of Amsterdam’s history. Or the bartender later that night that kept the laughs going as he kept Abbey and me company while we ate dinner.

The last example is my most favorite and makes me believe that there is at least a small amount of magic infused in traveling. It was Abbey and my last day in Amsterdam and we found a little bagel shop a short walk from our hostel. Naturally, as a New York transplant, I had to try their rendition of a bagel. As Abbey and I are waiting to order after the group in front of us, I hear someone exclaim “Oh my god.” When I turn to see what happened, I come face to face with none other than Emma Lipkind, a friend who worked on the Ram with me last semester and who happens to be co-writing the study abroad column with me this semester. It was quite literally a small world moment for me.   

All these people that I have met, or accidentally bumped into, while traveling abroad have made the world feel a little smaller and more connected. Whether we just spend an afternoon together or form a long lasting friendship, the magic of travel brings people together in a way that doesn’t always happen in “real life.”