I can’t remember when was the last time that I had so many different feelings and experiences all packed in only one month. It was probably at the age of one, when I learned how to walk. If you are or have ever been an exchange student, you may recognize some of the following feelings. If you are considering going on an exchange, then you should read the article to the end – cause the last part is the one that will make you wanting to go even more!
Note: This is only based on my personal experiences as an exchange student from Germany coming to DIT. It may occur that you’ll undergo different kind of feelings and adventures.
The week before coming
In this week, you will probably have the most changeable mood. From one minute to another your feelings can vary from enthusiastic excitement to panic to sadness. Sounds challenging, right? I will depict this in in a slightly more detailed way for you: The enthusiastic excitement will probably refer to the joy and thrill of anticipation of starting a new adventure that have been growing in you for the last months.
The panic might be due to the fact that you still haven’t found an accommodation or that you don’t know how you will manage to get stuff for five months in only one suitcase and a backpack
(seriously, how are you supposed to reduce the whole content of your room to 23 kg?). And then you’ll possibly switch to sadness when you notice that this is probably the last time you’ll see your beloved ones for the next six months.
The day of departure
Honestly, I had expected this day to be awful: Saying goodbye to my boyfriend and arriving to a new city without knowing anyone were not exactly the two things that I was most excited about. But when the day had come, I was surprisingly relaxed. I won’t say that it was easy to leave my family and friends behind, but this was kind of blown away by my joy to finally start what I had been planning for the last six months.
The first week (induction)
This will probably be the week with the most intense increase of emotions from anxiety to profound happiness. But let me go through the different steps. On the first day of your induction week, you’ll probably wake up with a slight feeling of anxiety: Will I find the way to school? Will I meet people? Will they be nice? Will I end up on my own and never ever be happy in this city? Okay, I’m exaggerating a little, but I think you get the point. Well, I can tell you that all these questions will be answered positively if you only make a little effort and just talk to whoever crosses your path. That’s what I did and guess what, the girls I talked to first when I arrived at DIT are now amongst my best friends here in Dublin! But let’s keep to the point: Your prior feeling of anxiety will soon be replaced by relief, because you will see that it isn’t that difficult to get to know new people and that the DIT international staff will always help you with whatever you need. Finally, at the end of the week, you will realize that it’s only been seven days and you already feel like you belong here and that you have found people that you can call friends and that you can rely on. This will fulfil you with profound happiness.
The second week (first week of school)
This is the week that will require a good dose of patience – at least if you’re a German student that is used to organization and punctuality. In my University back home, we used to know our schedule one month before the classes started. Well, when you’re an exchange student at DIT, it works different. There might be moments of desperation when you think you’ll never figure out your classes. Just keep telling yourself that everything will turn out right in the end – I promise!
The third week in Dublin
You might wake up one day of this week, realizing that it has almost been a month that you’re in Dublin. This will be accompanied by a feeling of shock, because you’ll see that you haven’t noticed how time flies when every single day feels like an adventure and is packed with new experiences. At the same time, it feels as if you’ve been here for ages, because this city already feels like home to you.
This is the day you will also realize that it may be harder than expected when you’ll be going back to your country at the end of your exchange.
But until this moment, the best thing to do is probably to live every day at the fullest and take every chance to experience Dublin and its countryside.
One day, someone told me that the first weeks of my exchange would be the most difficult time but also the easiest time to make new friends. After one month in Dublin I couldn’t outline it in a better way.