Five lessons learned by being far from familiar
Elena Montes is our US and University College Cork Ambassador and in this blog she shares five lessons she’s learned since travelling to study abroad in Ireland – from embracing the new and finding a new family to keeping in touch with those you’ve left behind and staying on top of the books…
For an American, Ireland may feel like a somewhat distant second home – the historical ties between our countries run deep. However, studying here – or in any place far from home – can sometimes feel quite overwhelming. Here are some lessons I’ve learned from the first few months of living abroad.
1. Explore with nothing more than the phone in your pocket (to take photos, of course).
Get the classic tours out of the way when you first arrive, then focus on getting to know your new home. Walk around the town until you know it like the back of your hand, try a new café every two weeks, and challenge yourself to make a new friend each day.
2. Remember what you’re here for.
We all look to achieve the golden trio: to live, to learn, and, cheesy as it sounds, to find yourself. Balance your social life – meeting new people, trying new things – with the all-important academia, and don’t forget to stop to take it all in. Living in a new place will change you. Embrace it and enjoy the ride.
3. Build a family in your new home.
Whether you’re staying with a host family in Ireland (a great choice as I’ve heard from friends – Irish hospitality is the real deal!) or surrounding yourself with amazing new friends, it’s important to truly feel at home in the beautiful place you’ve travelled to. Talk to people in class, invite new friends out to coffee or an exploring session, and don’t be afraid to put yourself into new situations to meet people.
4. But, be happy to be alone.
Don’t be afraid of staying in sometimes and enjoying your own company. The world can be overwhelming and you can face it in your own time. Cuddle up with some hot chocolate and a movie to take a break from responsibilities, and then face them again with new strength.
5. And don’t forget about the life you left behind.
It can be difficult to keep in touch with loved ones back home, but it’s important to remember your roots. Shoot a text to friends to catch up once in a while and Skype family every few weeks. If things ever get overwhelming, all you may need is a familiar face to remind you why you went on this journey in the first place!
Now go have an adventure!