If you are shy and introverted, you may know and have experienced the difficulties of having these personality traits. Interacting and communicating with people, creating friendships, putting yourself out there and being outgoing are some challenges you might typically face. At many times, it can hinder your ability to be confident in what you would like to do and be. In the interest of going abroad, making the decision is a brave step in helping you grow as a person. But if you are usually a timid person, sometimes it can get in the way of having a good time. In my own abroad experience, I faced issues that I learned from after my journey. If I were to do it all over, I would follow the lessons learned. Here are some challenges and ways to avoid and overcome them.
Make new friends– It can be intimidating going to another country without the people you feel most comfortable with, but making the effort in creating new friendships with others is key to having a great abroad experience. Friends have the ability to make us feel more comfortable and free, which is needed when you are within a new environment and culture. Whether you make friends with other Americans or natives from the country abroad, it will be one of the most memorable aspects of your experience because you have new people to support you every step of the way.
Get Out!-Don’t stay in your room. Go out and explore the environment around you. You have spent so much time and effort trying to get to the place you are abroad. It wouldn’t be worth it to let this experience of a lifetime go to waste. If you are really intimidated doing this alone, try finding a friend you feel comfortable with to go with you. Going with a native of the country you are in will be even better because they have better knowledge of the interesting places to go.
Be Apart of Social Events and Groups– Joining social groups, either from the abroad university you are at or locally in the area you are in is very helpful in relation to both of the previous advice tips. Social groups such as clubs on campus can help you create friendships, which is a bit easier than actually finding people freely on your own. Also, activity groups and clubs on campus may organize trips to different places. Take this advantage. From my own experience, it helped tremendously.
These are just a few ideas that one can keep in mind. I know it might be a challenge. But with motivation and effort, you can have a great abroad experience.
By: Maame Bassaw
Maame is a senior History major and Education Abroad Peer Ambassador at UK. She studied abroad at University of Central Lancashire in Preston, England through the exchange program.
For more information about the program that Maame completed, follow this link to the program page.