Posted in Reflections & Lessons

Preparing to go abroad as an Introvert.

Have you hear of the Myer Briggs personality test? If not, here’s how it works: You answer a series of questions, and it assigns you to one of sixteen personality types. I have taken it every year since eight grade, and every year without fail I’ve gotten the personality type INFP. The “I” in INFP stands for introvert. In describing introverts, 16personalities.com says that they, “often prefer to be in their own space where they can adjust to their environment… they need time alone to regather energy and restore their calm.” Don’t get me wrong, being an introvert is great. As introverts, we are great listeners, observant and care deeply for the ones we love. But, in unfamiliar environments, introverts do face some challenges. Personally, I’ve been worrying about the following questions.

How will I adjust to an unfamiliar place?

Will there be a space where I can spend time alone?

What if I’m overwhelmed by the big city or my living situation?

I know a lot of introverts out there are probably having these same thoughts. But, being introverted doesn’t mean we won’t have an amazing study abroad experience with DIS. We just need to prepare. So, here Is what I’m doing to prepare for studying abroad as an introvert.

  1. Familiarize myself with my surroundings

This is a good tip for anyone, not just introverts. However, as introverts, adjusting to new surroundings can be a little bit more difficult and take a little bit more time. But you don’t need to wait until you get to your new environment to begin this process!

We’re lucky to live in an era where almost all information is right at our fingertips! I’ve been reading articles about the cultural norms in Denmark, must-see places within Copenhagen, and learning about the transportation system. I’ve even read a bit on Danish History and used Duolingo to learn a few key Danish words and phrases.

The internet is never going to be able to give you the full experience of being abroad, but by reading about the Country you’re traveling to, you can learn a lot a lot. You can begin to familiarize yourself with a new culture and a new country before you step off the plane.

  1. Alone Time around Others

This title might sound strange, but let me explain. As I’ve said, alone time is really important for an introvert. However, I grew up in an extremely loud family with two dogs and three siblings. Being alone wan’t always an option. So, I’ve come up with some creative ways to get the alone space I need to recharge, even when others are present.

First, I’ve been looking at public parks in Copenhagen. Luckily for me, there are a lot! (Here’s a list: https://www.visitcopenhagen.com/copenhagen/activities/parks) Although you’re unlikely to be the only one in a park, you can find a spot away from others and spend some time with yourself, thinking and recharging your social battery.

Headphones are also a lifesaver. Maybe you’re going to be in a homestay like me, or perhaps you’re living in one of the other awesome housing options provided by DIS. No matter where you live though, you’ll be surrounded by other people, at least some of the time. When you’re in a pinch and really need some alone time but can’t find a place for it, throw on some headphones, find a place to sit and relax and listen to your favorite music.

“Quiet people have the loudest minds”

Stephan Hawking
  1. Preparing Coping Mechanisms

No matter how ready you feel to start your adventure abroad, you are undoubtedly going to feel overwhelmed at some point. That’s why I’ve been preparing for those times by developing coping mechanisms.

For me, it’s journaling.When I feel overwhelmed, I write down all my thoughts. This really helps to ground me. I’ve purchased a new blank journal to bring with me to Denmark and having it makes me feel good. I know that it will be there for me in those instances when things feel crazy.

But it doesn’t have to be a journal! Perhaps working out helps relax you when things get overwhelming or maybe you like two use art to cope. Make a list of what works for you. That way, when you’re abroad and you do get overwhelmed, you’ll be ready with tools to ground you.

Hopefully sharing how I’m preparing for my study abroad experience as an introvert has helped you as well. It can be scary traveling so far outside of your comfort zone. I’m terrified. But I know that by doing this I will become more resilient, gain self-confidence and develop lifelong connections.

Until next time,

Izzy

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