Kyla Oshanek, Mexico

If you are an introvert—like me—you can probably imagine that being in a group setting in a foreign country 24/7 for thirty days will pose some challenges. Introverts need quiet time to recharge, so being in a group all day can be draining. Before departing for my field school I pondered how I would navigate the upcoming reality of very little quiet time in addition to the regular ups and downs of a field school experience. I have now spent the past three weeks in a group of mostly extroverted individuals, and it has been a great experience. Here are my top three tips for enjoying your own field school experience as an introvert:

  1. Take time to recharge. Extroverts thrive in groups whereas introverts need quiet time to re-energize. Some extroverts have a hard time understanding your need for alone time, so remember that if they do not understand your desire for a few hours of solitude, while the rest of the group heads out for the evening, it is okay – you are both getting the energy you need to enjoy your individual field school experiences.
  2. Have a method of processing your experiences. You will be in a new environment and surrounded by new people, which can be overwhelming without a way of processing the incoming stimulation. Know what helps you relax; it may be journaling, chatting with someone back home, going for a massage, meditating, yoga or a quiet walk. Taking the time to do something that makes you happy will help you feel refreshed.
  3. Connect with another introvert in your group. Most introverts appreciate one-on-one time or small groups. Having another introvert to spend time with can help you feel supported on your trip; you can swap stories, explore your new surroundings, or just spend quiet time together.

Being an introvert in long-term social situations can be challenging, so remember that it is okay to not be with the group all of the time. Try to participate as much as you feel you can, but if you need a break, it is okay to say so. Some people may not understand, and that is okay too. Try to find a balance and remember that this experience is your experience. It will be life changing, and you will look back with great memories, so have fun and take care of yourself!

By: Kyla Oshanek, Camosun College. Winner of the 2016 Stories from Abroad: British Columbia Study Abroad Scholarship.

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