After the stress of all the planning, finally making the move to the country that will be your home for the next semester or year is initially a relief. But moving to another country is a monumental moment in life that comes with its trials, and often with loneliness. Don't let anyone say otherwise.
In the months leading up to my departure, my mother would constantly joke that she was concerned that I would not make any friends and my experience in Norway would be a lonely one. Whilst I would always laugh, this was a deeply rooted anxiety for me. I have always had difficulty thrusting myself into social situations due to anxiety and the physical exhaustion caused by Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. If there is anything that I have learned about friendship, it is that the characters in life will constantly swap and change as everyone grows.
Making friends in Norway reduced me to feeling exactly like I did during freshers in Cardiff University in my first year: terrified.
I was terrified that I would arrive too late to freshly formed groups or would not find anyone I could get on with. But I had to remember that everyone felt this anxiety, albeit at different levels, and it calmed me into the experience.
The biggest social adjustment this semester abroad has been how different the housing dynamic is. In first year, people are thrown into a random flat with random people and bond through a series of nights out. At least, that is the culture at my Cardiff. In Norway, it is very different as everyone is here to do their own thing. My flat is comprised of eight people, much like my house last year, from all different parts of Europe and different degrees. This means that we do not often see one another and have only managed the one flat dinner so far.
It was a stark difference from last year where
I would always be able to knock on somebody’s door and relax, or go to Wetherspoons with the house every week. This is why I am thankful that I met Rosa; my Dutch flatmate who was the
first person I met when I moved in. We discovered that we also shared a class, and that we both love a good walk.
The loneliness felt when doing the study abroad scheme is something that is not regularly addressed for this is 'the best experience of your life'. Whilst this opportunity is very unique, it is important to recognise that feeling lonely is natural. It took me a couple of weeks to fully understand that I had moved and was, in fact, living in Norway and that is when I began to feel this loneliness.
and dealing with
loneliness when studying abroad
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“The best part of being a GO ambassador is being able to relive and share the experiences I had abroad. I loved telling my story and sharing the best tips for for other students about to embark on their journeys. It was exciting to welcome students to our university”.
JACKIE YIP, PREVIOUS GO AMBASSADOR
CARDIFF ABROAD - OCTOBER 2019
Making friends is so vital to have an enriching experience when studying abroad, but addressing that it is not an easy task to temporarily leave the life you have made for yourself at home behind is also a crucial hurdle to tackle.