Studying abroad can be tough especially if you are an introvert. Kalina, our Mary Immaculate College Ambassador tells us about the importance of getting involved…

Despite what some might say, everyone needs friends. No matter how introverted one may be, solitude is only good for so long. Too much of it and the soul has a hard time recovering. This is why it is so important to get involved when studying abroad, no matter how long you are in Ireland for, be it five weeks or five years. There’s a difference between being alone and being lonely, and if you don’t get involved, you’ll suffer from the latter.

For a long time, I was a self-proclaimed introvert and looked forward to the times where I could be alone. And for all intents and purposes, I was happy. But coming to Ireland, a country I knew nothing about and knew no one here, I knew that would have to change because otherwise I would be completely isolated all of the time. So, I jumped headfirst into every opportunity presented to me. As it stands right now, I am a class rep, chairperson for a society, and I co-host two shows on the student run radio station, WIRED FM, which airs throughout Limerick. It seems like a lot but if it weren’t for these things, I don’t think I would want to stick around Mary Immaculate College for another semester, let alone four more years.

Being a class rep is really nice for saving yourself from isolation because your class knows you and you at the very least have people you can wave to in the hallway, which is better than nothing. For example, one night my friends and I went out and one of the girls from my class recognised us from class and wanted to take a picture with us for the group chat. Although this doesn’t sound like much, it’s nice to feel important in some way, even if it’s only for ten seconds.

As chairperson for the International Society at school I coordinate events for the international students of Mary I. We are a fairly large community and meeting up with students going through the same, or at least similar, experiences as you is the most comforting feeling in the world. Students studying abroad are going to suffer from homesickness at some point and not everyone can bounce back from it. For some, it consumes their experience completely and they come out worse off than when they started. Being constantly busy is not for everyone but having things to do frequently is better than the alternative.

At WIRED FM, I co-host an international show which gives me an outlet to discuss problems I face as an American abroad and I also have the opportunity to bring on guests from other countries and get their view on certain topics or the study abroad experience in general. Every week is a chance to show how alive and thriving the international student community is and if one student listening feels less isolated, then it’s more than worth it.

I won’t pretend it’s easy. But if you come in with the right mindset and take every chance put before you, you won’t regret it.

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