Annisa Shuzaini, our Student Ambassador shares her journey of finding friendship while living abroad. From overcoming her introverted nature to embracing diverse cultures, she highlights the invaluable support system her new friends provide. Read her blog to discover how stepping out of her comfort zone has enriched her life in Ireland.

Hello, I’m Annisa Shuzaini, currently pursuing a Masters in Interactive Digital Media at Griffith College Dublin. I’d like to share some thoughts about the importance of friendship when living abroad. Moving to a new place and leaving behind the familiar comforts of home, family, and friends can be scary. Starting afresh in a new environment can indeed be daunting. While the unwavering support of loved ones back home is invaluable, finding a reliable support system in your new place is equally crucial. Making new friends and immersing oneself in social circles becomes essential for navigating the challenges of living in a new place. Personally, I credit my friends in Ireland as one of the primary reasons for my successful adaption to this new chapter of my life.

As someone who tends to be more introverted, I initially faced the daunting task of stepping out of my comfort zone on the first day of induction. However, I made the right decision to challenge myself to forge new friendships, recognizing the vital role they would play in helping me acclimate to my new surroundings. One of the best decisions I’ve ever made was to engage with fellow students at Griffith College, many of whom were interna:onal students like myself. This provided me with the opportunity to cultivate friendships with people from diverse cultural backgrounds. Interacting with my new friends allowed me to gain invaluable insights into their respective cultures, and in turn, share my own cultural heritage with them. A fundamental mindset that I embraced was the importance of mutual respect: understanding that if we desire others to honour and appreciate our cultural traditions, we must reciprocate by respecting theirs. This exchange extended beyond mere conversation; it encompassed sharing traditional dishes, acquainting myself with basic phrases in different languages, and partaking in their cultural celebrations – experiences that are truly unique and enriching.

I have been fortunate to find a strong Malaysian community in Ireland, and a key strategy for expanding my social circle has been participating in events organised by Malaysian groups such as BPI or gatherings hosted by the Malaysian Hall. Connecting with fellow Malaysians has been particularly comforting during moments when I long for the familiarity of home. However, I firmly believe that it is equally important to form friendships with individuals from diverse nationalities, as this opens up endless opportunities for broadening one’s knowledge and understanding of the world. In essence, venturing beyond my comfort zone and embracing friendships with people from various cultural backgrounds has been an enriching and transformative experience. It has not only provided me with a sense of belonging but has also expanded my worldview in ways that I could never have imagined.

Annisa Shuzaini is studying Masters in Interactive Digital Media at Griffith College via Education in Ireland.