Life usually looks better on social media. That’s not news to anyone—we all know it. Yet, I still find myself time and time again wishing my life was as desirable as it looks for some of my friends on social media. It seems like everyone is securing jobs after graduation, taking weekend getaways to the most beautiful places, and overall having everything together all the time.
Throughout my time abroad, I’ve made multiple social media posts about my weekend trips to different cities in Ireland, beach days, hiking adventures, spontaneous ice cream runs with friends, and more. From the outside, my abroad experience must look absolutely perfect in every way. And, don’t get me wrong, the memories I’ve made on this trip have been some of the best ones I’ve made in my entire life. I’ve met some amazing people and have seen more natural wonders than I ever could have imagined, but…
While it’s been remarkable, not everything has been as seamless as I’ve portrayed it online. I’m writing this blog post to show you the reality of being abroad and to hopefully validate the feelings of other students abroad who also had a difficult time finding their footing. If you’re currently living abroad or about to travel abroad in the future, this is me telling you will have rough days and that’s okay. It’s all part of the experience. Here are a few of my personal “not so instagrammable” moments of being abroad:
It was hard to make friends. This might be controversial among students who’ve done an abroad program. Before I came, a few of my college friends who studied abroad in the past told me it would be so easy to make friends in my program.
When I first arrived, I rode the elevator up to my apartment floor and I was expecting to see some of my roommates when I entered the apartment. But, instead, I saw a long hallway. The housing situation in Dublin is interesting. While I have roommates, we all have our own rooms. The main door of the apartment opens to a long hallway. Six doors line the left side of the hallway—these are our individual rooms. There’s a kitchen at the very end. So pretty much, this means you don’t really see your roommates at all unless you happen to be in the kitchen or hallway at the same time. I don’t think I even met all my roommates until the end of the first week. Because the housing situation is so isolated, it made it hard to meet people and make connections. Sure, I’d sometimes bump into people and strike up a conversation, but unless I got their contact information I probably wouldn’t see them again for a couple of weeks.
I really didn’t find a group of friends until the third weekend when my program took a group trip to Galway. Until then, I felt very lonely. I was outside of the United States for the very first time ever, and I really didn’t know anyone. As I talk to my friends now, it seems like most people felt the same way I did over the first couple of weeks.
And, don’t get me wrong, I still get lonely sometimes. It's difficult being thousands of miles away from close friends and family—the FOMO is definitely real. But, alas I know I’ll be back home soon enough, and when I get home, I know I’ll probably wish I was back in Ireland.
What we post on social media often doesn’t capture the mundane everyone experiences throughout their daily life. Why? Well because it’s just not as interesting as a weekend spent traveling or getting crepes with friends. So, if you’re studying abroad and worrying your experience isn’t looking like what you see online, know the students behind those social media posts probably have the same worries and concerns as you. Being abroad is scary. It can be lonely at times. It can be confusing. But that’s all part of the experience, and you’ll grow the most when you sit with these feelings and learn how to navigate them. At least that’s what happened to me.
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<p>Hey! I'm Maddie (she/her), and I'm studying Journalism at Indiana University. I'll be spending my summer interning in Dublin, Ireland hoping to grow my professional skills and experience all Dublin has to offer. Follow along as I attend cultural festivals, visit lots of local cafés, explore the outdoors, and more. This is my first time traveling outside the U.S., so I'll have a lot to learn and figure out. I can't wait to take you along for the ride!</p>