Deciding to move to a new country to study on your own is a big decision. Constantly doubting your choice, worrying that you’ll find it hard to make friends or just the daunting move itself – all swirling through your mind. But, it’s sometimes best to let what happens happen.

In her second piece, Erin Cobb from the USA tells us how she got through bursts of intermittent homesickness, the task of making new friends and all the challenges posed by the ongoing pandemic.

When I first arrived in Ireland, I didn’t know what to expect. This was the furthest I had ever been away from home for a long period of time and I was very nervous about that distance. Specifically, I was nervous about the effect that the Covid-19 restrictions would have on my ability to make friends and connections with people.

Due to Covid-19, Dublin City University required all international students to participate in a two week quarantine period where we lived in different dorms from our booked accommodation. At the time, I was worried this meant that I would be alone for two weeks in a foreign country not knowing anyone. Thankfully, I quickly learned that this presumption was false. After a long night of travel and a half-day spent panicking over the immediate homesickness I felt, I found my friends.

Erin and her new-found friends (photo: Erin)

Although at the time I would’ve preferred not to participate in the required two-week quarantine, I wouldn’t have met my friends had we not been put together in that situation. Before arriving in Ireland I had been nervous for weeks about how I would make friends in this new country and when I first met them I felt immediate relief. In my circumstance, we met because of the current restrictions, however, it is my belief that the right people will find you. Whether it be making friends with roommates or classmates (when they teach in person again), I think there is more stress surrounding the thought of making friends than actually just talking to people and making those connections. When it comes down to it, just try not to stress beforehand, be yourself and get to know the people around you.

In my experience living abroad for the last six or so months, homesickness comes in waves. I have tried to remedy my own homesickness through FaceTime calls with my family back home, trying to keep myself occupied with schoolwork and hobbies, and daily journaling. It can be difficult if this is both the furthest you’ve been away from home and the longest time spent away, but the technology that we have allows for immediate communication with family and friends back home. Ultimately, I think it is important to have a support system in this new place and recognise that everyone feels homesick at one point or another.

Erin is pursuing an MA in Social Media Communications at Dublin City University.