Spring 2023 #2
February 27, 2023
Adjusting to a New Way of Life
by Grace Gannon, MUDEC Student Intern
Hello everyone, welcome back to the MUDEC newsletter! For our second edition this semester, I will be writing about the highs and lows of adjusting to a new culture, schedule, and amount of freedom.
As everyone warns you when leaving for your semester abroad, there will be varying levels of culture shock. Some days are magical and feel like you are living in a fairy tale, other days… you may be crying to your parents on the phone, missing your old “normal” routine. I have definitely been experiencing both; it’s the reality!
I am falling more and more in love with being abroad every single day, but it is certainly a learning experience. I try to focus on the positives and not let inconveniences get the best of me.
I think it’s easy to let a good day go south when you keep focusing on the negatives. Every day I make a point to reflect on the day through my journal, as well as my digital diary on my travel Instagram account. When I sit down at night and write out everything I do, I am so grateful for how exhilarating a “typical” Tuesday abroad is. Anything that may have been bothering me earlier suddenly feels irrelevant.
There are stressful aspects of navigating a new country: the public transportation, language barrier, time differences, etc. But those stressors are how I am becoming better acquainted with Luxembourg and living abroad as a whole!
I love writing down funny little memories with my friends in my journal and updating friends and family with pictures on my Instagram account. I will definitely cherish taking time documenting what my days have been like and recommend it to both current and future MUDEC students.
In addition to documenting your experiences, it’s important to stay in touch with the special people in your life back home. The time difference, new phone plans, and limited free time on both ends can create a challenging scenario in terms of communication. Finding a common time so you can catch up on each other's lives is so important to me and many of my fellow students here. It’s so exciting telling the people you care for about your adventures abroad.
Navigating a New Schedule
Class schedules at MUDEC have a balance of classes within and outside of your major. I thoroughly enjoy my discussion-based cultural classes.
The schedule may feel very different from Oxford; I have a schedule with almost all morning classes and only one afternoon class. This leaves me with lots of time in the afternoon to finish up assignments and explore the Luxembourg area. I am so grateful for this freedom within my schedule as the staff here MUDEC encourages us to get various cultural experiences to become acquainted with Lux and European culture as a whole.
Host Family Relationships
Creating a relationship with our host family has been such an amazing experience for me and my roommates. It is so gratifying to live with people who are so excited to share the culture with you. Even if you are in an independent living situation, so many locals are thrilled to share their lives with you. Many people are very appreciative of you trying to speak the language—even if they end up just speaking English back to you—and wanting to learn more about Luxembourg. I have met so many amazing people at restaurants and cafés just by talking to the people working there and learning about their experiences. It makes adjusting to the culture easier when you engage with the people that live here.
Prioritizing Your Unique Experience
Everyone wants something a little different out of their experience and it is important to make it your own; don't just tag along with someone else’s semester. Something I have really been trying to focus on is guarding my time abroad. By this I mean saying “no” when I am exhausted and not up to going out to dinner. It means planning the weekend trip that I want to go on and meeting new people that are up to joining me—not always just following along with people I knew beforehand.
Take time to move your body. I love going to get a workout in at Aquasud or walking around Esch with my roommates. Know when you need rest, prioritize important assignments, and don’t wait till the last minute to get something done—it might mean missing out on a fun experience with friends.
There are a lot of factors when it comes to adjusting to a new environment, let alone one on the other side of the world! Give yourself grace and go with the flow; there is so much to learn. I am so grateful for this experience and am ecstatic for the rest of the semester.
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