What’s the hardest part about studying abroad and how can a student better prepare his/herself?
I am an American preparing to study at Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland for four years and would just like to know some of the unexpected difficulties of studying abroad along with some suggestions to avoid any mishaps.
Athena, good question. Studying abroad was perhaps the best decision that I made in college and I am incredibly grateful that I had the opportunity to do so, yet I was also unprepared for some of the challenges that I wound up facing while overseas in China. While my experience most likely won't be the same as yours, I have found that most students generally encounter many of the same problems to various degrees. Isolation is one of the most common complaints that students who study abroad encounter. You will be in a brand new place and depending on how outgoing you are, you may find yourself without your normal support network and people that you go to in your time of need. Being in a new place with new people without your usual go-to people or networks can be incredibly isolating so it is important that you advocate for yourself and talk to people if you find yourself having problems overseas.
Furthermore, while encountering new things and having new experiences overseas can be exhilarating, you may also miss some aspects of home. While I was in China, I at times really missed American food; while I loved the food in China, there were times that I wanted some familiar food from back home. For me it was food, for others it was family, language, faith, culture etc. The missing of aspects about home can be mitigated if you talk to people how you are feeling. It is likely that someone else in your program will be feeling the same as you and it can be nice if you and someone else do an activity that helps relieve that homesickness. I would go to American restaurants every other week or so while in China and this helped me a lot when I had a food cravings.
I hope this helps and I wish you the best in your studies in Dublin!!
Athena, congrats on getting in to Trinity! It is truly and exceptional school and in a wonderful city. I lived in Dublin for two years and it absolutely changed my life for the better. To be honest, I would be shocked if you don’t move there after four years!
My suggestion to you for preparation would be to step out of your comfort zone. Try not to live with friends, as making new friends (especially Irish ones) will really help for you to immurce yourself in the culture.
Secondly, prepare yourself for the ability to travel on long weekends. So many trips will arrive to go to Scotland, Berlin or Paris and you’ll want to hop on a Ryan Air flight with your friends! So try to avoid Friday classes if you’re able.
PS: When I was in Ireland I created a food Instagram of the best restaurants in the City called @YummyDublin. Give me a follow and have a great time!