When you move to a new country, it’s the little things that get you by; talking to friends and family or little reminders of home in your room, but it can be easy to rely on these things when feeling homesick. Indian Student Ambassador Annora Dsouza tells us how she gets by adapting and facing the challenge head-on when feeling homesick…

I swung the door shut, unzipped my suitcase and stared at the room which would now be my home for the next few months. I took a deep breath….and cried. But don’t worry, everything was uphill from there! Adapting to the Irish lifestyle can be quite a challenge but, fortunately for you, I will be sharing some insights on how to cope with such a change. 

Make your accommodation YOUR accommodation 

Whether you’re staying for three months, six months or more than a year, sprucing up your space to suit your style and personality can alleviate the initial sensation of culture shock and homesickness. That’s not to say you splash the walls with a whole new bucket of paint.  

Start off with minor changes such as the bedding covers, hanging pictures of loved ones from back home, sticking up posters or setting down trinkets and, if you have some cash to spare, getting new furniture. Remember, this is your private place of comfort.  

Seek discomfort 

Although sitting in your room all huddled up in a blanket seems like a good way to seek comfort, a better way is to go out and explore what the country has to offer! Yes, it rains (a lot I might add) and yes, it can get cold and windy but that is all part of the Irish experience!  

Take a walk around town and immerse yourself in the history and culture of Ireland. Try finding the hidden gems that are unknown to the general public. Join clubs or societies or even strike up a friendly conversation with your local shop owners. The Irish folk are lovely so don’t be afraid to ask them for help if you ever get lost.  

Life in Limerick (photo: Annora)

Improvise, adapt and overcome 

A good way to adapt to life in Ireland is by researching the social norms of the country beforehand. Having an idea of what routines, behaviours and norms the locals follow can make the transition smooth. From personal experience, however, despite my research, applying what I knew was harder in practice. 

Trying to find a balance between the social norms I was exposed to when growing up and the norms of Ireland was key as there was quite a difference between the two. Eventually, with a bit of trial and error, I got into the right routine. It takes time to adjust to a new way of life hence don’t fret if things do not work out initially. 

Keep in touch 

There may be days when the homesickness kicks into overdrive and nothing, not even some good ol’ chips or a pint of Guinness can make you feel better. You long for the comforts of your home, the ease of speaking your own language and, not having to constantly check the weather app to see if it’s going to rain every time you step out the door. 

Maintaining connections with people back home is a good way to move forward. Sometimes we get caught up in the homesickness spiral and feel, the only way to make ourselves feel better is to go back. But, having just a single conversation with someone from home can make all the difference. It reminds us of why we are in Ireland in the first place and why we should keep moving forward. 

Annora is doing a BSc in Digital Animation Production at Limerick Institute of Technology.