Hey! It's now my fourth week in Ireland, and I've slowly adjusted to my new and exciting life here. I've met so many new people and I feel as if I've already established a community of family and friends in my new town, Clogherhead. However, the first few nights here were difficult. I expected my whole study abroad experience to be a smooth dream, but homesickness hit me hard. I struggled to remember why I decided to leave everything and everyone I was familar with. I couldn't even read a letter or text from my parents without tearing up a bit. My mind kept replaying the moment when I left my parents at the airport to board my flight.
Thankfully, my parents at home and my new host family helped me stay distracted and pull through. Within a few weeks, the homesickness faded away, and I never expected it to go so fast. I try to talk to my family at home once or twice a week, but I find myself so busy with new friends and activities that I miss out on times to call them. I've realized that I will see them in a few months. I know everyone tells you that you'll have a great time and it will go by so fast, but it's honestly true once you find your bearings. If you're participating in a program or thinking about applying for one, here are some things that helped me adjust to a foreign life.
- JOIN EXTRACURRICULAR ACTIVITIES- I can not stress this enough! I've tried so many new things outside of school and it has really helped me find some new connections.
- DON'T BE AFRAID TO TALK TO PEOPLE- Especially in school. I reached out to some people in my class and established some beginnings for friendships. Ask questions and tell people about your country. Everyone is interested in the main differences or things they do in their home country that you find strange. Also, find a common interest with someone and create conversation. I am a big foodie, and everyone loves food, which has started so many conversations for me.
- MAKE PLANS- If you enjoy the company of someone you meet, ask them to lunch or to a movie. I think a movie is always a good place to go with new friends because you can talk and get to know each other some, but there isn't a lot of pressure to always talk during the movie. Plus, you can discuss your thoughts on the movie after it ends.
- BEFRIEND OTHER EXCHANGE STUDENTS (if they live near you)- This really helped me in the beginning because the other exchange students know exactly how you're feeling and are also in this new environment, looking for new friends. I found it very easy to connect with the other students. Also, this can give you connections all around the world! We are already dreaming of plans to visit each other in Italy and other places.
- PARTICIPATE IN CLASS- Answering questions in class or helping out a classmate can help you establish a presence in the class. Small acts of kindness can go a long way, so just do small things to help your classmates, if you can.
Overall, my first month here has been a whole adventure and I feel so lucky that I landed in such great community with an exceptional host family. Thanks for reading!