Can introverts thrive in the social world of study abroad?

Melanie Garza
November 3, 2021

Nuevo mes, nuevo blog. It’s November now and I can hardly believe it! Time has been flying by. It's crazy that it’s been just over half of the semester already. I’m not gonna focus on that right now though because the thought of leaving makes me sad :( Instead, I’m gonna talk about something that isn’t very exciting or happy, so I’m sorry if you came here today looking for excitement. Maybe look at some of my other blogs for that. Today I’ll talk about something I’ve started struggling with more and more in the past weeks. I’m not sure if there’s a scientific name for this but for now let’s call it social exhaustion. 

I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned this in one of my previous blogs but I’m a big big introvert. To clarify, since there exist some myths about introversion, this doesn’t mean I’m antisocial or socially awkward or that I don’t have fun doing extroverted things. This just means that I feel most comfortable either by myself or with a small number of people, and I get re-energized from spending time alone as opposed to social interactions. This kinda leads me to the root of the situation which is that I’ve been socializing so much lately, it’s getting exhausting. 

I know it may sound dramatic to some of you, especially extroverts, but I also know someone will relate to this so I’m gonna talk about it anyways lol. Studying abroad is great and is full of new experiences and people and of course I want to get the most out of it so I’ve tried to push myself to be more social than I normally am. I think to an extent this is a good attitude to have, but once I started noticing signs of social exhaustion it became an issue. The whole purpose of me pushing my extroversion beyond its normal limit is to experience and take in my time here to the fullest, but it seems like my efforts can be counterproductive. 

For whoever might relate and wants to know which signs I’m talking about, it’s things like being easily irritable, not enjoying myself while out, and even getting headaches after some time of social interactions. This is something I’m currently trying to adapt to so I don’t exactly have a clear solution but what I’m going to try this week and upcoming weeks is just to take more time to myself. Seems obvious, but in study abroad it’s really easy to forget to make time for you! It can come off a bit rude if you suddenly start saying no to hanging out with people or to going places, but who cares?? Honestly, your own mental health should come first, and those around you should understand. 

The worst thing would be for you to get in your own way when it comes to enjoying your time abroad, so invest some time in making sure you’re getting enough alone time if that’s what you need. To answer the question in the title of this blog, YES! I’m sure. As with most things in life, it’s all about finding a balance. This is kind of a theme that first came up in the ~stress~ blog, but it’s so true so I’ll use it again. Don’t completely stop having social interactions, but also don’t overdo it. Sounds easy enough right? Anyways, I don’t want to make this blog too long since it’s one of the less happy ones but if you have any tips or questions for me don’t be shy and reach out. I'm pretty friendly, and I will most likely respond... unless I’m busy spending time alone :p

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Melanie Garza

<p>Hi, I’m Melanie! I’m a senior at Carnegie Mellon University, majoring in Physics. After graduation, I plan on attending graduate school in pursuit of a Ph.D. in Physics. While I love STEM, I also love the arts! I’m part of an a cappella group, I’m in my school’s non-major orchestra as a violinist, I like to draw and paint, and I’ve dabbled in some dance too. It’s important for me to keep a balance between all my interests, which also include working out (at the gym only - I am NOT athletic, unfortunately) and outdoor activities that don’t involve swimming since that’s something I can’t do. I know, shame. I’m really looking forward to exploring all my hobbies and interests in the context of a new culture. I am fluent in Spanish since I was raised in Mexico so Spain will be full of possibilities!</p>

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Carnegie Mellon University
Dallas, TX
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