Studying abroad is meant to be an exciting time where you discover new places and meet new faces, but for introverts, it can feel overwhelming. Being forced into a situation outside of your comfort zone, miles away from everyone you love, can lead to fear and anxiety.
In this article, we offer our best tips for thriving while studying abroad as an introvert.
Document Your Experiences
One common characteristic of introverts is that they tend to enjoy their thoughts and emotions in some way, like writing, drawing, or painting. While you are abroad, spend some time jotting down all your experiences and processing any feelings that come up.
“One tip that I give to new students is to spend a few days on your own exploring the city before the term begins”, explains Maria Hastings, an educator at Writinity and Last minute writing. “It helps you to get used to the area and helps you to relax by taking things at your own pace.” Getting a feel for your new surroundings can help make you more comfortable. And exploring a new place on your own is a key to independence—just make sure to be safe as you do so.
Study abroad programs are, by nature, chock full of events and trips and other forms of socializing. It’s good to get involved in these things to get the full study-abroad experience, but don’t be afraid to spend time alone if the activities and social events are a bit overwhelming. Taking time to have a coffee alone can really reset the batteries.
One of the reasons that students struggle when first moving abroad is that they are away from friends and family. If you suffer with homesickness, it will be harder to enjoy your time abroad, so make sure that you try to stay in touch with your loved ones to make the transition easier.
“For introverts like me, I always recommend taking advantage of university Facebook groups, forums, and social events to make it easier to make new friends”, suggests Jeffrey K. Allen, a career blogger at Draft beyond and Research Papers UK. “Once you are face to face, strike up conversations—who knows, maybe they are feeling as nervous as you are!”
Break Out of Your Comfort Zone
This step is particularly difficult for introverts, but it is important to try and break out of our comfort zone in the initial stages. Join a new club that interests you, or sign up for a group trip or activity.
If you are going to be someone who says “yes” to everything, the early days of studying abroad is the time to do it. The more events that you go to, the more chances you have to meet friends that you really click with. Once you have made good friends, and they understand that you are an introvert, you can maintain the friendship without accepting every invite given to you.
If you are nervous about accepting invites, why not be the one to plan events? That way, you can make sure that it is on your terms at a venue and time to suit you. This will make it more likely that people will get to know the real you and increases your chances of a deeper friendship.
Make Yourself at Home
It is vital that you make your dormitory as comfortable as possible by decorating and putting up photos of your friends and family. Having a space that relaxes you is an absolute must for introverts. Having a place in the town that you love to go to will also be a big help. When you feel stressed, you can visit your spot with your laptop or a book and spend some alone time away from roommates. Ideally chose somewhere in the city, rather than on campus, as there is less chance of you bumping into other students while you are trying to get some space. Having a spot where you can go to relax will really help you to avoid sensory overload and thrive as an introvert abroad.
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