Why You Shouldn´t Be Afraid To Put Yourself Out There

Going abroad is like being handed a fresh piece of life, smoking hot out of the oven, with a note attached to it; be alive. It’s easy to lock yourself up in your room, and chat to your loved ones at home without even uttering two words to anyone else. But that’s to live, not to be alive. You will have to (wo)man up, get yourself out there and introduce yourself. It’s embarrassing, but you might also find new friends, new lovers, new families.

I knew this, and I knew I had to make the most out of my single semester in Aberystwyth, Wales. I have never been the type to say no to pie. So during fresher’s week, when the clubs were all lined up to welcome new students with open arms, I decided to open mine as well and go for a hug, not just a handshake. I wanted to do sports, so I started collecting pamphlets and asked as many questions as I could. Of course, I was nervous. Would I manage to find “my kind” of people? Not everyone I met felt right; some jock guys didn’t even look at me twice, just handed me a pamphlet and continued to talk among themselves. But once two boys in white doboks grinned at me, and asked if I wanted to join the Tae Kwon-Do club, I knew I needn’t be nervous.

Street of Valetta

To get new friends, you need to put your worries aside. “Will they understand what I say? Will I understand what they say? Do I look stupid trying to do a side kick?” There will always be bumps along the way. I often had to repeat myself, sometimes I just nodded and smiled and I definitely looked stupid doing a side kick. But you know what, so did everyone else!

My instructor Harriet gave me many push ups as punishment for showing up late, but she also gave me many compliments. I got punched twice in the eye by Rowan, but he apologized by buying me a drink at the pub. Chris knocked my brain’s out, but then he gave me a hug. I was not at all perfect, but I was cared for. I felt it during every practice, every time we met in the halls, every Friday when we went to the pub. They showed that they cared by asking how I felt that day, buying me drinks, inviting me out, and I will never forget how they announced me “Student of the year” during Christmas dinner, giving me a bottle of champagne. It was shared after our last session before the holidays, drunk from plastic cups and underneath a staircase where we huddled together to seek shelter from the Welsh rain.

There were others as well, people I met because I went out there and dared to take the first step. Just asking “can I sit here?” to someone I’d only met once, lead me to eat dinner with the computer science students Chis and Joe almost every day. Joanna and I (sadly) found a dead bird, and next thing I knew, we were having tea. I joined the Hiking Club, and met up with the members every Sunday in order to climb yet another one of the amazing mountains of Wales.


As I said, I felt loved, and even more so during my last night in Wales, when people cried and threatened to kidnap me. I was told that I wasn’t allowed to leave, but I did. I had people at home whom I loved as well, but I knew I would miss those I left behind.

What I am trying to say is; if you just dare to put yourself out there, you will find people who care. It doesn’t matter if you’re abroad for a whole degree, a year or even just a semester. You will need someone besides those you left at home. Sure, you can call your friends, but you can’t hug someone through a phone or share a bottle of champagne in the rain with someone on Skype.

It is not enough to live

You have to be alive.



This guest post was written by Ida Brennodden, a norwegian girl who studied in Wales for one semester. If you´d like to read more from her, make sure to check out her blog. 

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