As I prepared to travel to a new country, a major concern on my mind was whether I would be able to form new friendships. Being in Dublin, the capital of Ireland, I anticipated being surrounded by people whose cultures and backgrounds I might find hard to connect with. In my hometown, my friends were significant motivators for me to go out and explore. However, now that I was in a new place, I would have to work on creating a fresh circle of acquaintances. It was up to me to put in the effort and overcome any social barriers that could stem from never leaving America to build new relationships in this unfamiliar environment.
Fortunately, my accommodation had been incredibly helpful in meeting new people, making my socializing efforts much easier. While there were plenty of people in my program with whom I could have bonded, I was determined to extend my interactions to those outside my immediate vicinity. Luckily, the game room located on the lower floor of our lodging provided me with the perfect opportunity to do so. By engaging in fun activities such as foosball, pool, or ping-pong with other residents, I was able to forge relationships with a diverse group of individuals. This experience allowed me to connect with people from different backgrounds and cultures, broadening my perspective and making my travel experience all the more enriching.
Forming connections in a new country can be a daunting task, but one of the simplest ways I found to do so is to bond with others over the shared experience of being in a completely unfamiliar environment. When conversing with people during my travels, one of the most common conversation starters was asking how long they had been in the city of Dublin and what they had done during their time there. Engaging in this type of dialogue not only gave me valuable insights and recommendations for excursions and activities but also helped me to better acclimate myself to being a person who lives abroad. Overall, this method of connecting with others proved to be a useful tool in facilitating my cultural immersion and travel experience.
Although I thoroughly enjoyed connecting with my fellow international students, it was important for me to keep in mind that we would all eventually go our separate ways. In just a few short years, we would likely be scattered across different parts of the globe, pursuing our own individual goals and aspirations. As a result, I recognized the importance of honing my communication skills, as this would allow me to stay in touch with those whom I had formed close bonds with. In the same way that regular check-ins are essential for maintaining connections in remote work situations, I knew that making an effort to keep in touch with my international friends would be crucial in preserving those relationships over time.
I have also become more sensitive to the diverse communication styles of those from different cultural backgrounds, which has improved my ability to adapt to a wider range of social situations. I can now read a room better than ever!