Moving to a new country can be a challenge for anybody, but especially if you’re an introvert with anxiety.
Have you ever watched a movie or read a book that ignited your passion and made you dream of a far-off place?
Ten years ago, I was at a phase in life where I was head-over-heels in love with the charm of rom-coms. Do you remember this perfect little rom-com called Leap Year? It starred Amy Adams and made me fall in love with Ireland. With a strangers-to-lovers trope in a picturesque setting and a heartwarming love story, this movie had everything a hopeless romantic could ask for.
So I devoured every piece of information about Ireland, specifically Dublin, and wrote in my journal that I would one day move to Dublin. I know all of this sounds silly, but hey! I have a dreamer introvert personality type, and dream I shall.
Spoiler alert: Just like Amy Adams finally finds her way to Dublin in the movie, I, too, found my way there from India. Fast-forward 10 years later, and here I am, writing this article from the heart of Dublin. I am currently pursuing my Masters at Trinity College, a beautiful university built during the Elizabethan era.
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Moving to a New Country… as an Introvert With Anxiety
While all this still feels surreal, taking this step as an introvert with anxiety wasn’t easy. I distinctly remember the day I received my offer letter from my dream university. What should have been sheer excitement immediately turned into a series of what-ifs. What if I don’t make friends? What if I can’t handle the stress and anxiety of moving to a new country? What if I feel homesick all the time?
And let me tell you, the anxiety was real! A major reason for this uneasiness was my decision to pursue a master’s degree in a business field with the majority being extroverted students. Since business school is all about networking and social events, I was unsure of my decision. Stepping out of my comfort zone and facing the real world? No thanks! But how could I have passed on an opportunity that brought me closer to fulfilling my 10-year-long dream?
So I decided that instead of letting my introversion hold me back, I’ll make it my strength and step out of my comfort zone. Here are four ways I navigated my life as an introverted student in a new country — all at my own pace.
4 Ways to Get Settled in a New Country as an Introvert
1. Take your time to explore your new city.
When you move to a new country or city, there is always a range of emotions you feel during this transition. You feel that thrill and excitement of starting a new phase of life, but it can also get pretty overwhelming. The first few weeks after moving are usually the toughest, especially for introverts who take their own time to adjust to new environments.
But don’t worry, my fellow introverts, I’ve got you covered.
I’m sure many introverts like me enjoy being around people, but equally, enjoy our solitude. So the best way to explore a new city as an introvert — without being socially drained — is to just be friends with the city. I have always found solace in the arts, so visiting museums was my way to familiarize myself with the city of Dublin. Not only are you surrounded by beautiful artwork, but you can also take your sweet time to enjoy yourself at your own pace.
2. Don’t rush the process — take your time to meet like-minded people.
When I moved to Dublin, I was surrounded by people who went out on popular pub crawls, chugging pints of Guinness, and making new friends. Many people give in to the FOMO, the fear of missing out, but I chose to take things slow and not force them.
If, like me, you’d rather stay at home than go out partying at night in a new city, you are not alone. Initially, I tried pushing myself to go out and socialize, but I quickly realized that forcefully socializing was never my thing. Trust me, you will do all those exciting things that you thought you missed with the people who “get” you — when you find them, which can take time.
I’m glad I didn’t rush the process because it allowed me to meet people who share my interests and values. Now, we spend time traveling, exploring new places to eat, and occasionally indulging in a night out on the town.
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3. Join groups that truly spark your interests.
Are you the kind of introvert who loves meeting new people, but hates the awkward small talk that comes with it? Well, let me tell you about the easiest way to make new friends without feeling socially drained — join groups and organizations!
As introverts, we all crave a sense of belonging. Joining a society or club can provide a sense of community and belonging, particularly for those who are far from home.
But here’s the thing — don’t just join any society because it’s popular among your peers, or it has people from your home country. It can be tempting for us introverts to stick with what’s familiar, but joining societies that don’t genuinely interest us can leave us feeling lonely in a crowd.
Instead, take the time to explore the different societies and clubs around and choose ones that truly spark your interest. This way, you’ll be surrounded by like-minded individuals who share your interests. This common ground can make it easier to start conversations, meet new people, and build new friendships.
4. Create a cozy haven for yourself at home.
If there’s anything introverts love more than solitude, it’s their bedrooms — they are our havens. Making my room cozy and comfortable helped me survive the initial days in Dublin. Moving to a new country can be an overwhelming experience, and creating a comfortable, introvert-friendly space is one way to help you adjust.
When I moved to Dublin from India, I knew that my bedroom would be my place to recharge after a busy day in a new city. I made sure to bring all my favorite things with me, from my books and decorative items to my beloved Funko Pop collection. These little, familiar things helped me feel more at home in my new place.
Of course, there’s no one particular way to make your new home your haven, as different people prefer different things. But the next time you move to a new place, consider personalizing it to make yourself feel more at home.
Embrace Your Introversion and Respect Your Needs
As introverts, we value our alone time and often find social situations draining. The anxiety that comes with meeting someone new every day definitely makes it more challenging. However, time flies when you are pursuing a master’s degree, especially in European countries like Ireland. It only lasts for one year, and irrespective of your personality trait, you’ll want to make the most of it.
An important step to making your study experience less stressful as an introvert is to embrace your introversion. Introversion is not a flaw or a weakness. It’s a personality trait that comes with many strengths, such as creativity, empathy, and thoughtfulness. Accepting this about yourself will make you feel more confident, especially in social situations.
Socializing, as an introvert, is a balance between pushing yourself out of your comfort zone and respecting your own needs. This mindset, fortunately, helped me find a group of friends who shared similar interests and personality traits. We often go out on short trips to different cities in Ireland, but we also respect each other’s need for alone time. It’s important to communicate your needs to the people you meet and prioritize self-care. Having a supportive group of friends has helped me incredibly in making my study-abroad experience much more enjoyable.
Taking that giant leap of faith and moving abroad can be a daunting experience, but it doesn’t have to be. As an introvert, you can make it an enjoyable journey by honoring your own needs. By truly embracing my introversion, and exploring things at my own pace, my study abroad experience has been unforgettable.
So go out there and discover all that your new place has to offer! You never know what exciting adventures and incredible memories await you.
You might like:
- How to Explore Your City Like a Local as an Introvert
- 9 Ways to Adjust When You Move to a New Country as a Highly Sensitive Introvert
- How to Meet and Feel Comfortable Around New People as a Shy Introvert
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