"The Lizzie McGuire Movie" was the actual sneaky little brown noser with a hidden agenda, because it gave us some very unrealistic expectations about going abroad.
First off, Lizzie traveled to Rome with her class to celebrate their graduation from middle school to 9th grade. I didn't know middle school graduations were even a thing, let alone something you get an international vacation for.
But even though Lizzie wasn't technically on a study abroad trip in the movie, she was still finding her way in a new country -- something that rings true for every college student about to live overseas for the first time. If you're thinking about taking a semester abroad, don't let Lizzie's insane adventures mislead you.
LIE: It's easy to go abroad
In the movie, everyone in Lizzie's class automatically got to fly off to Rome...
But IRL, going abroad is a mess of college credit and financial aid forms.
In reality, not everyone who wants to go abroad can study overseas. Sometimes class schedules prevent it. Sometimes financial aid doesn't cover it. Sometimes colleges won't give you credit for courses taken at another university.
LIE: You go abroad with people you know
In the movie, Lizzie's BFF Gordo was by her side...
But IRL, your best friend is halfway across the world.
This is why Skype exists.
LIE: International travel is easy peezy
In the movie, planes were the perfect place to take a refreshing nap...
But IRL, airports are your worst nightmare.
If you have a connecting flight, there's probably going to be a delay somewhere along your journey -- just because the airport gods love to mess with you.
LIE: 5-star accommodations are an affordable option
In the movie, Lizzie's gang lived in a posh hotel...
But IRL, you share a closet-sized dorm with a complete stranger.
Or maybe you live in a cramped hostel or at a home stay. Whatever the case, don't expect anything bigger than a twin bed.
LIE: Everyone will want to be your friend
In the movie, the locals adored Lizzie because they thought she was a famous singer...
But IRL, the locals think you're just another obnoxious American.
Please prove them wrong.
LIE: You don't need to learn another language
In the movie, everyone spoke flawless English with a sexy Italian accent...
But IRL, you could probably use a few extra foreign language courses.
People study abroad so they can experience another culture. If you speak English the whole time -- in a non-English-speaking country, of course -- you're kind of missing the point.
LIE: Sightseeing is a stress-free experience
In the movie, Lizzie had a magical day at the Trevi Fountain...
But IRL, you won't always get to see what you expected to.
Long lines and rainy days inevitably put a damper on your adventures now and then. You might trek all the way to the Trevi Fountain so that you can throw a coin in and make a wish à la Lizzie -- only to find that the fountain is under construction, as it is in the Instagram pic above. Womp womp.
LIE: You frequently eat the country's signature delicacies
In the movie, Lizzie had her pick of fancy food...
But IRL, you live off the peanut butter you stashed in your suitcase.
Peanut butter is hard to come by overseas, so bring some with you in your suitcase. When takeout -- if you can even find any -- gets too expensive, buy some bread and have a hearty PB sandwich for dinner. There's no growling stomach that peanut butter can't satiate.
LIE: You accomplish all your big plans
In the movie, it was all adventures all the time...
But IRL, you need a few days off.
Sightseeing is a ton of fun, but also very, very exhausting. When you're feeling a little burned out, it's normal to need a few days of R&R before you're ready to continue your insane experiences.
LIE: You meet the love of your life
In the movie, a famous pop star made Lizzie swoon...
But IRL, you probably just hook up with fellow study abroad students.
Kate and Ethan were in the same travel group, but coming to Rome made Kate think of Ethan in a whole new light. All it took was a plate of spaghetti.
Sure, you meet plenty of hot locals in your journeys...but you also get to know the other study abroad students in your program as well. You have a lot in common with them since, ya know, you're both in a strange country where you don't know anyone else. That basically means you have to be friends -- or maybe *winkwink* something more.
LIE: You keep in touch with your parents
In the movie, Lizzie's folks joined her in Rome...
But IRL, you only see your 'rents through your laptop screen.
When you get into trouble abroad, you're pretty much on your own. This is a good thing, though. Being independent is just as exciting as it is scary.
LIE: You ride around town in style
In the movie, Lizzie hung out on the back of a Vespa...
But IRL, your feet are in pain from walking around so much.
Make sure you pack comfortable shoes!
LIE: Seeing someone famous is NBD
In the movie, Lizzie casually bumped into the pop stars Paolo and Isabella...
But IRL, the only way you see someone famous is if you pay to see them.
And after you account for how weak the dollar is in most European countries, you're probably paying double what you'd pay for a concert back home.
LIE: Your touristy photos are Instagram-ready
In the movie, paparazzi snapped photogenic pics of Lizzie...
But IRL, you become highly skilled at taking selfies.
Otherwise you have to hand off your camera to a stranger to capture the moment...and what if the stranger walks away with your fancy Nikon that you bought specifically for the trip? Selfies are a much safer option.
LIE: You transform into a famous singer
In the movie, Lizzie suddenly realized she had a great voice...
But IRL, you are like Paolo.
If you can't carry a tune back home, then you definitely can't carry a tune when you're at a karaoke bar in a foreign country. The study abroad experience is pretty damn magical, but unfortunately it's not magical enough to turn you into a famous singer like Rome did to Lizzie. Sigh.