Want to kick those initial international student fears? Spending a semester or two away from home can be quite daunting. Not only will it most likely be the longest time away from your family, but many international students go somewhere all by themselves and being separated from your friends in a completely alien atmosphere can be intimidating. However, studying abroad can prove to be one of the most rewarding experiences of your life. You gain new friends, experience a different culture and enrich your understanding of the outside world. Life at home may be great and you may have your life set up in the town you have been in your whole life, but if all you get from studying abroad is perspective, then that is good enough.
However, many students experience inertia or worse, anxiety, during the first few weeks and it is easy to make your short time here unenjoyable. So, if you are wondering what you can do to kick those initial fears and fully settle into UL life, then read these tips that international students from across the globe have used to help them ease into life here. Follow these guidelines and by the end of the semester, Ireland will be your home away from home.
Get Involved in Campus Life:
The best way of doing this is to simply join one of the many clubs and societies that UL has to offer. This way, you can meet some of the Irish students and perhaps get accommodation sorted for your Irish holiday this summer. One of the best things about joining a club is that you make loads of new friends and it makes the possibility of you coming back to Ireland more plausible. They can even visit you abroad. On top of this, just the general feeling of belonging will make your experience much more enjoyable. Gaelle Clion, a French international student, says: “I feel you guys succeed quite well in making us feel comfortable. To be honest, coming to UL was the best decision of my life.”
Put Yourself Out There:
Matilda Thomassen, a Swedish international student, says that this is her top tip for enjoying UL life. It is important to get involved right away, from the start of orientation week. Remember that every international student is in the same situation as you so just try to talk to people. Finding at least one person you’re comfortable with can really help you ease into life at UL. Remember that these things take time so do not panic if it is taking a while to make friends. Matilda says: “Just try to put yourself out there. Don’t be nervous.”
Come with An Open Mind:
Chandan Ganguly, an international student from India, says it is important to not let the respective norms of your own country to cloud your perspective. The best way to experience a new culture is to have a positive attitude. Chandan points out that if you are enthusiastic to participate, it not only occupies you between your lectures but gives you an opportunity to meet nice people.
Update your Family:
While this may seem obvious, many can get caught up with this new life in Ireland and forget about family members back home, who are probably missing you extremely. Nuria Romero Quintana, a Spanish international student, claims it is as simple as a quick phone call a day, just to check in.
So, there you have it. The best way to make the most of your time here is to be yourself, do not be afraid try new things and most importantly, have a positive attitude. These international students also claimed the best way for Irish people to make them feel welcome was to introduce them to your own friends, so to all the charming Irish students, don’t be afraid to start a conversation and just say hi. A smile can go a long way!