Living Abroad, an English Language Student's Experience

Student Experience

Living abroad without romanticising

Posted 14 May

Many people living abroad have positive experiences and I can't wait to share mine with you.

If you’ve already read my previous blog, you’ll know by now that one of my dreams in life was living abroad and I want to tell you about my experience living my dream.

First of all, you have to know that social norms vary from place to place, and you can often be unsure of what is acceptable. This will cause you to make mistakes, and that's okay - but definitely learn from it. In my case, I have the luck that Mexicans are a lot like Irish people from my perspective, which is amazing because they are friendly and always willing to help.

When you live abroad, you must do many things for yourself. You must face new challenges, deal with bureaucracy, deal with homesickness, manage a budget, and more… You are sure to have hundreds of questions, like how do I pay taxes here? Or even something as simple as how to change a light bulb? Fortunately, here in Galway I’ve never had to deal with it from scratch (thank you Google!!), but also when you go to school here you meet a lot of new people, some of them have been living here for a long time and they know their way around, of course, if you ask them, they will definitely help you out!.

It is challenging, you are in a different country physically far from your social support network, of course, you've still got the internet to be close to them, the gap of hours between countries makes it harder but surely not impossible. 

You are going to be so busy exploring that feeling down for the first months wouldn’t be a problem, sometimes, you will have low days but here is the deal, one of the truths about living abroad is that making friends as an adult in a new city is hard and even if you meet people you like, you will feel lonely sometimes, because, when you are starting from zero it is easier to build one on one connections than a big friend group, you’ll be alone a lot of the time and be forced to learn how to enjoy your own company which leads you to become more self-sufficient and more independent, which will definitely bring up a lot of difficult emotions.

Don’t be afraid because, like you, there are many others, and we can usually bond by “Hey, where are you from?” Most people living abroad feel the same way and it’s an amazingly effective [KG3] icebreaker!

Kristell exploring Ireland

Kristell exploring Ireland

Some considerations to keep in mind

If you, like me, decide to come to Galway, Ireland. You have to know that living here can be an exciting and transformative experience, but it's important to acknowledge that it can also be challenging and difficult at times. While it's easy to romanticize the idea of starting a new life in a foreign country, the reality of living abroad is much more complex than that.

One of the biggest challenges of living abroad is the cultural differences. No matter how much research you do before you move, there will inevitably be things that surprise and confuse you. Simple things like grocery shopping or navigating public transportation, or even being able to pronounce Irish names properly can be incredibly daunting when you don't speak the language or understand the customs. It's important to be patient with yourself and give yourself time to adjust to these differences.

Also let’s talk about the social isolation. Moving to a new country means leaving behind your friends and family, and building new relationships takes time. It can be lonely and isolating, especially if you don't speak the local language fluently. It's important to make an effort to meet new people and build a support system, whether that's through work, hobbies, or social events and of course studying the language as I mentioned before everyone at school is having a similar experience, so have that in mind.

Financial instability is another reality of living abroad. You will have a good head start since one of the visa requirements is having a certain amount of money in your account to ensure that you will be covered for the first two months at least you can start working part-time to help your personal finances since your first month here. You may also have to navigate a different banking system or tax laws, which can be overwhelming. But don’t worry because on the GCI Student Portal you will find all the instructions about having an Irish bank account and most of the part-time jobs reduce your taxes from your pay slip, so you don’t have to worry too much about it.

Finally, it's important to acknowledge that living abroad isn't always sunshine and rainbows. (Even in Ireland the land of Rainbows). You will inevitably have bad days, and it's important to have coping mechanisms in place for when things get tough. Whether it's calling a friend back home, practicing self-care, or seeking professional help, it's important to prioritize your mental health and well-being.

Since I’ve arrived in Ireland, I learned a lot about being resilient, and patient because every time that you fall you don’t have any option other than getting on the bicycle again. -Literally and figuratively- that’s a story for another blog!!

In conclusion, living in Galway from my point of view has been a transformative and rewarding experience, but it's important to approach it with a realistic mindset. It's not all adventure and excitement - there are some challenges and difficult moments along the way. However, by acknowledging and preparing for these challenges, you can set yourself up for a successful and fulfilling experience in Galway. Like I did!

More to read

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