These are some challenges I faced while studying abroad
Here’s how Beth managed an international move for university which brought huge change.
Written by Beth Doherty
Voices - Experiences
Young people share their personal experiences.
The weeks following my Leaving Cert results were, as they were for many in my year, a flurry. They involved preparing to start university, sorting accommodation, processing that secondary school was well and truly over, and getting ready for the future- all in a matter of weeks. This rush meant that I found myself on a boat three weeks later, and the fact that I was moving abroad for university began to fully sink in.
It was a nerve-wracking experience, but also one filled with excitement. New environments challenge us, they make us consider things and ourselves from an entirely new perspective. I was going to a completely new city and country, where I was the furthest from my family and friends I’d ever been for an extended period. I think that’s one of the most intimidating parts – the worry of losing your support system, of having to build a new one while maintaining your connections and relationships back home.
I didn’t approach moving abroad worry-free, but despite these anxieties, I also felt a great deal of excitement for everything that this experience would bring. That was important for me, that acknowledgement of the worry alongside the excitement. By working with both, I was able to prepare myself for the challenges ahead while also allowing myself to experience what has been one of the most exciting periods of my life so far.
The first thing I noticed after moving and starting university was independence. I’m fortunate that my college is no more than a 15-20 minute walk from most things in the city, so for the first time, I could walk places to meet friends without planning trains two hours in advance! I had full liberty to do what I wanted when I wanted and how I wanted. This, of course, meant a crash course in time management and responsible grocery shopping.
I do believe that, for me, this independence was enhanced by moving abroad. It’s incredibly freeing and has taught me a lot about myself, what I enjoy, how I work, and how I want to spend my time. Coming home has proved a bit of an adjustment during the breaks, but the extra help with laundry every 8-10 weeks is appreciated! Though it can be intimidating at first, I adjusted in time (with some cooking mishaps along the way), and if you’re thinking of moving abroad you will too.
Support in times of change
Though this independence is fantastic, support is always still needed, particularly during a period of so much change. The last few months have brought their ups and downs, alongside some incredible friendships and a wonderful sense of community. Most people in my university have also moved away from home, whether from somewhere else in the UK or from abroad. We all live together and, in a cliché sort of way, there is a sense of family in our shared kitchen. I feel incredibly grateful for the friendships I have made abroad, and for the ones I have maintained back home.
If you are considering moving abroad and are worried about the distance between you and your friends, I was too. It’s a natural concern, and one I went through many times, particularly during the first few weeks. But I learned that my friends from home are never more than a phone call or text message away and that sometimes moving away can strengthen those friendships and lead to great meetups when you’re home.
Taking a leap of faith
That being said, homesickness and loneliness are a natural part of many university experiences and are compounded by moving abroad. At times, I have felt as though my time and everything I own are split between two countries, but you adjust to this. Everyone I’ve spoken to has felt lonely at university, but I found that this improves as time goes on. Moving away, I was very much thrown into the “deep end,” but I believe this has strengthened my friendships, new and old, and given me a newfound appreciation for Dublin whenever I return home.
Moving to a new environment is never easy, particularly when you’re just out of school. However, taking that leap of faith brings so many new experiences and opportunities to explore the world, your future, and learn about yourself. It can be a completely fresh start in a place you may never have been to before, but you will fall in love with exploring the city, the country and meeting people you otherwise would never have met.
There’s a noticeboard in my room, and when I arrived it was bare except for a few photos I had brought with me from home. Over the last few months, it’s slowly begun to be populated with photos from term time, photos printed from home, and pictures of friends who have visited. I had doubts about moving abroad up to the moment I moved into my room.
Though there have been challenges, I believe that it is ultimately one of the best decisions I have made and have been fortunate enough to be able to make. I am so glad I decided to move abroad, and if you are thinking about it I encourage you to question the worries in the back of your head, consider taking that leap and challenge yourself to try something entirely new.
Thinking about making a move abroad? There’s a lot to consider before moving to a new country – from arranging visas to finding work and a place to live, here are the things to consider before you go.