Moving to another country isn’t easy. Even if you speak the language, there’s a new city and culture to learn as you leave your old life behind. You’ll get a room but it won’t be home, not yet. No art on the walls, no books you’ve had forever, a different view out the window. Now, moving is exciting, don’t get me wrong! Everyone talks about the fun parts or the big challenges (visa, housing, etc), but it can be stressful in 1000 little ways.
In case it wasn’t clear, I moved to Dublin for the Smurfit MBA – in fact, I had never been to Ireland! Oh, I’d travelled before, but I was still nervous even with my friends promising I’d love it (they were right, btw). I wasn’t dealing with a language barrier (more or less, good luck pronouncing Irish place names), but everything else was totally new. And it was exciting! It’s something I wanted to do since I was a kid, but it’s also much easier said than done.
Anxiety kicked in even before I moved, and the best solution I’ve found is to make a plan and make it detailed. If you don’t know something, look it up! Absolutely reach out to the Smurfit admissions/international office, but don’t forget other sources of information. Someone’s moved from your country to Ireland, is there a forum post on it? Check out your State Department’s website or your local Irish Consulate, especially for esoteric questions! Maybe your doctor can help with meds/vaccination/etc planning. Have previous students dealt with your issues before? Is there stuff to eat here that fits your diet? Are there accommodations for your disability? Will you fit in and be accepted, especially if you’re not a majority demographic? And on and on.
The benefit of planning is that when (not if!) the unexpected happens, you’ll already have knowledge and resources you can draw on. But I won’t lie, it can be overwhelming at times, and it’s that overwhelming I want to help you with.
I don’t know your situation, but I can tell you this: if you’re moving to another country, by yourself, to spend a year with 30 other students, be busy as all hell, and face the job market on the other side, you are officially a badass. And, since badasses can hear hard truths, I’ll say this: you won’t survive on willpower alone.
An MBA in another country is a stressful, busy, hectic, and anxiety-inducing endeavour as much as it is a fun, exciting, amazing, and novel one! When everything is crazy, PLEASE remember to take care of yourself. You cannot face the day on an empty stomach, with little sleep, if you’re off your meds, skipping exercise, ignoring your routine, or any other way you practice self care.
Team brunch is self care, right?
If you are someone who loves people, do not make the mistake I did and stay in your room all week before classes – get out, go downtown, go walk around a park! It’ll likely be summer when you get here, take advantage while it lasts! You don’t even have to talk to anyone, being around other people will lift your spirits. If you recharge away from people, take the time to get your room just the way you like it – put that art on the wall, get a duvet that’s extra comfy, rearrange your room, and afterwards go for a quiet walk somewhere green. While you build your support network here, don’t forget everyone back home who said they’d help you out. Yeah, there will likely be some serious time differences, but that’s the beauty of texting or snapchat: people can catch up anytime! Asking someone to talk if you’re feeling down isn’t weakness, it’s strength. <3
Above all, don’t forget – you’re in a new place and isn’t it awesome?? Why not find ways to make the most of it! Miss your pet? Maybe there’s a dog park or cat cafe around. Miss someone’s home cooking? I’m sure there’s a hole-in-the-wall family restaurant just waiting for you to sit down and chat with the server over something delicious. Bummed out by the grey weather? Make a point to get outside, even if just for a bit, every day – the sun still shines through the clouds (PS: if you’re not used to dark grey winters, get yourself a full-spectrum lamp. “Seasonal Affective Disorder” is real).
After the storm you get rainbows – cliche, but true (seen after hurricane lorenzo)
I’ve only been here 2 months and already this program is a roller coaster. I’ve been happy, I’ve been stressed, I’ve stayed in my room eating pizza and I’ve gone out and found a new bar with new friends in old rain. But that’s the whole point, isn’t it? We don’t ride roller coasters because they’re tame, we ride them because fear turns into exhilaration and fun.
We’re cheering you on, you got this <3
QB Quinones-Bangs, Full-Time MBA 2019 – 2020