Finding Comfort Abroad By Catherine Payne

One month into my study abroad in Groningen, The Netherlands, I had already been in three biking accidents, spent more money on food than I do in twice the amount of time, and had felt lonelier than I could have imagined. What I imagined to be an easy transition was instead one that was much more difficult. I had planned ahead, but things still slipped my mind. I haven’t ridden a bike since I was eight, I never budgeted my money for food and other necessities, and seemed to forget that even though I was more excited to study abroad than any other thing I have done in my life, I would be going through a huge transition. I knew that I needed to do something as soon as possible to remedy the situation I was in. I found empty streets to practice riding my bike, planned what I would buy from the grocery store before I got there, and reached out to friends and family about how I was feeling. Talking with my friends back home and the ones that I have made here so far has been vital in helping me to adjust to the change. Something else that has been essential, has been finding places where I can relax and reconnect with myself.

In Groningen there is a cat café called Kattencafé Op z’n Kop. They play relaxing music, have amazing drinks, a wonderful staff, and most importantly, lots of cats that I can pet. This space has become a safe haven for me. I can come here whenever I am feeling overwhelmed or homesick and immediately feel better. Cats make me so happy, so I am so glad that I found this space. For some people, their room or a park would be their happy place. It is important to find these spaces and people that you can be yourself in/around. Studying abroad is a major change, and it is not easy. Find the people that support you and do not be afraid to reach out if you are feeling down. I am not perfect, but I am much better at my bike now, I am spending less on food and unnecessary things, and I have made friends that I can count on to come to my aid whenever I need it. Studying abroad has been amazing so far, and I cannot wait to see what the rest of my adventure holds.

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