Taking Care of Yourself on Exchange

By Tatiana Morand, Visiting Student Blogger

Tatiana is a third-year English and Business student from the University of Waterloo in Canada. She’s thrilled to have the chance to travel across Europe and experience the lively literary scene of Dublin.

Going on exchange is a pretty stressful experience. You’re in a completely different country (or even a different continent!), surrounded by new people in a place you’ve never been… I could go on, but I think you see my point.

Is Everybody Hanging Out Without Me?

The hardest thing about going on exchange for me has been the fear of missing out. When you see other people’s beautiful Instagram photos or hear them talking about the cool new bar they went to last night, it can be hard not to feel like you’re the only one who’s not out and about, making new friends and doing fun things. It can also be hard wondering what your friends back home are doing, particularly when there’s a giant difference in time zones.

However, the most important thing to keep in mind is to do only what’s comfortable for you. There are so many activities available at Trinity that, if you don’t want to take part in something, don’t do it. You’ll definitely be able to find something that you actually want to do. In the same vein, if you want to do something and you can’t find anyone to go with you, just do it by yourself!

Taking Care Of Yourself


Above: Sourced: http://gemmacorrell.tumblr.com/post/148821931783

So, what can you do to battle these fears? Self-care encompasses a variety of strategies, and ranges from things like “Take a bubble bath when you feel sad!” to “You know that thing you were putting off? Do it and you’ll feel better!” to “Go talk to your therapist!”. Here are some basic strategies I use to help boost my mood when I’m feeling worried.

(Note: I’m not a health professional, and none of these tips are in any way meant to replace medication or any other kind of therapy you might be undergoing. Do whatever works best for you!)

  1. Exercising

If you’re feeling anxious, it might be a good idea to check out the Trinity gym or go for a long walk (this has the added benefit of showing you more of Dublin!).

If you don’t have time (or just don’t want) to do a full workout, there are a lot of great exercise videos that you can do in your room, like Blogilates (featured below).


  1. Eating

Making sure you’re eating enough is also crucial to making sure you’re in a good mood. (Feeling “hangry”, anyone?) And no, drinking lots of Guinness at the local pub doesn’t count.

Stuck for ideas, or worried you don’t have any easy-to-carry food? Check out these diagrams for some easy, healthy snack ideas!

I would also recommend drinking lots of tea. (This will also help you feel properly Irish.) Whether you want to get caffeinated or relax, go to a café or brew it at home, there’s a tea out there for you. (Just please don’t make it in the microwave…)

  1. Relaxing

Listening to soothing music, or even white noise if you want to be particularly focused, is a good way to distance yourself from the chaos of tourists on campus. Here are two albums that I find particularly good for unwinding (or studying, hint hint):

  1. Planning

If you’re worried about anything in particular, it can help to plan it out beforehand. For example, write down the activities you want to do over your exchange so that you don’t forget anything, or if you’re taking a trip, make sure that everything is written down and ready so you don’t have any surprises.

This also applies to schoolwork (even though it can be hard to remember that you are actually here to study!) Keeping track of all the deadlines- and making sure you don’t leave all your essays until the last week- will help you minimize stress (especially if you are like me, and used to having lots of small assignments throughout the term rather than just one right at the end).

Have any other suggestions for taking care of yourself on exchange and beyond? Leave them in the comments!

Editor’s Note: For a handy list of the many Trinity Resources available to students, take a look at the Student Counselling Services website: https://www.tcd.ie/Student_Counselling/support-services/college-support/. Please take care of yourself, and reach out to us or to anyone on this list if you need support!


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