An introvert in Ireland
To say studying abroad is a big decision is a huge understatement. Leaving home and moving to a foreign land, attending a university you know practically nothing about, and learning a new way to live, all while you’re still in college, is insane! But, I can say from experience it’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. However, that’s not to say I wasn’t hesitant about embarking on such a dramatic and crazy journey.
By nature I am an introvert. And while many people claim to be introverts, I’m the kind that has to force myself to close the computer after about eight hours shut away on YouTube. Because of this, I was worried if studying abroad was for me or not. I knew people who had told me how incredible it was, but all of these people were very extroverted. Slipping into new environments and social interactions was seamless for them. For me, it’s a different story. Some of you may be faced with the same questions and difficulties, so from one introvert to another, let me put your mind at ease and tell you why you absolutely can have an incredible experience abroad.
For starters, Ireland is the perfect place for an introvert to study. The people here are so welcoming and friendly. You most certainly will not be forced to always initiate conversation, and once you engage with the Irish, they make you feel very comfortable. They also love to talk, so liking to listen is an appreciated asset. Moving to a new city leads to many opportunities to explore. So when I moved to Dublin, during the time I would normally spend on my computer, I spent exploring. This allowed me to become very familiar and comfortable with the city, which really helped me ease into the transition of being abroad. Studying abroad is truly a “once in a lifetime experience.” You need to constantly remind yourself of this. This will help you get outside of your comfort zone and engage in new experiences. This can be difficult at times, but it’s necessary. Otherwise, you won’t fully absorb and grow from the experience.
Now here are some tips that I’ve gained from my own experience:
- Push yourself to go out at night with others. This will help you meet people, and it’s also an integral part of the Irish culture, so you don’t want to miss out. But don’t feel that you have to over do it. It’s ok to leave whenever you feel ready. Also balance the time you spend going out, with nights where you’d rather stay in.
- Don’t be afraid of spontaneity! When you’re thinking, “Should I book this ticket to Barcelona? Maybe not, I mean I don’t speak Spanish, or know anything about Spain,” scrap those thoughts immediately. You absolutely should go. You’ll have memories that will last for the rest of your life.
- Ask questions, often! When a friend and I arrived in a monstrous London train station and had no idea what we were doing, it was scary. But instead of panicking, we went straight to the help desk and got right on our way.
- Find people that you can relate to and make you feel comfortable. Don’t feel forced to hang out with people you don’t want to.
- It’s fine to do things by yourself. Just the other day I went to a matinee showing of The Grand Budapest Hotel at Dublin’s Irish Film Institute. It was some great “me time”.
- And finally, don’t be afraid to travel by yourself. Traveling alone is very daunting, but can actually be an incredible experience. It allows you to operate on your own schedule, doing and seeing things that YOU want, and not what a group wants. Also, being alone helps you meet people while you’re traveling. Hostels are teeming with other solo travelers just like yourself, and who knows, you may meet a new friend for life!
Studying abroad is such a rewarding and exciting experience. I am so glad I came to Ireland, and am cherishing every moment I have here. Just remember, everyone is different. Tailor your experience to fit your needs and you will have an incredible time!