How to study abroad as an introvert?

Do you think you shouldn’t venture on a study abroad if you’re an introvert? That’s absolutely not true. There might be some things you are worried about though. I am an introvert myself and I did struggle with it during some periods of my life. Study abroad has been tough at times, but it teach me a lot about myself and how to take care of my introverted soul.

So, what exactly is an introvert?

So basically, every person is somewhere on the spectrum of introversion vs. extroversion. The main difference is the way we resonate with the world, where we get our energy from. There is actually real science behind it. 

More extroverted people tend to like social events, meeting people, spending time with bigger groups of people. This is what energizes them and makes them feel alive. An extremely extroverted person (most people tend to have some extroverted and introverted characteristics, there don’t tend to be people purely extroverted or introverted) prefers to always be with people than alone, being alone depresses them.

On the other hand, introverts recharge when they’re alone and have their quiet time. They need time to analyze things, they have rich internal life and tend to think things through more. This doesn’t mean they’re not sociable, but after attending a social event, they will need time on their own to recharge.

I love spending time with people- with my friends and family. But for a longer time, being around a lot of people, especially new ones, is exhausting. At some point socializing wears me down and I just need to have some down time to be all up and running again.

When I started researching I found out there are actually a lot of iniciatives raising awareness about introversion. Introvert, Dear is the best site connecting introverts and spreading awareness. In the modern society we tend to value extroverted features more- being very sociable, active, talkative. Quiet people tend to be encouraged to participate more and this to introverted people can be a lifelong struggle.

As I learned more and more about introversion I decided to take on some of the struggles an introvert might have as a student abroad.

study abroad introvert

1 . Hard time making new friends

As an introvert, you may find it harder to come up to people and strike a conversation. But remember that university is not high school anymore! People tend to be much more friendly and open. There will definitely be a number of opportunities to meet people. At my uni for example, we have a thing called Speed Mating. You can prepare some conversations starters, something that will make people interested or just ask them questions- everybody likes to talk about themselves! Here are some introvert-friendly ideas for making friends from HuffPost.

2 . FOMO- fear of missing out

Sometimes you need a quiet time for yourself. Maybe even more than sometimes, maybe an evening with a cup of tea and your favourite show is your idea of the perfect time. That’s ok. But sometimes it may feel bad to stay home when it seems like everybody else is out there living it up to the fullest. You shouldn’t isolate yourself completely from the people, but let yourself have a quiet evening if you want to. You don’t have to go out every weekend just because it seems like everybody else does. Forcing yourself to do something you’re not in the mood to do can be dangerous in the long run.

study abroad introvert

3 . Group activities and trips

It seems like being in a group of random people should be the source of sheer joy for everybody. It’s not and introverts know that. There are many people who prefer studying alone, working alone or travelling alone and it’s perfectly ok. I personally prefer doing those things with someone close- my boyfriend (aka My Favourite Travel Companion) or a friend than with people who I don’t exactly know.

Group activities such as trips or study groups can be a good opportunity to make friends. You should totally take advantage of that. But don’t be afraid to turn down an offer or go travelling solo if you feel like you prefer that.

4 . Sharing a flat

Yes, sharing a flat can be a difficult experience if you like having your space. You may have different kind of relationships with your flatmates. But even if you’re friends and on good terms with each other, being somehow always surrounded by people may be irritating to someone with introverted personality.

Think carefully about the flatmates when choosing a flat. If you like to study at home and need quiet time, don’t go for a people who will make the place a party flat. Decorate your room the way you want it and make it as cosy as possible. This will make you feel comfortable in your own space.

And if you end yup with extroverts? Here are some survival tips.

study abroad introvert

5 . Being judged for spending time alone

It turns out that many people are still ashamed of being alone in public. When it is rather acceptable in coffeeshops to be on your own with a book or laptop, it seems like it’s much harder in other situations. If you feel like taking a trip solo, going into that restaurant or going out, just do that! Don’t let your anxieties stop you.

Doing things alone has quite a lot of advantages. You don’t depend on anybody and don’t have to put up with anybody’s problems or changes of plans. Also, when I walk alone around the city I am completely invisible to those people who stand outside of restaurants trying to lure you into for dinner. Win!

all images, but the last one, courtesy of pixabay.com

study abroad introvert

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