Paulina-SzklarekMoving to a new city where you don’t know anybody is scary for the most confident of people. So what if you’re an introvert? Business student Paulina was right there with you this time last year, except she had the challenge of moving to a new country and speaking a second language to deal with too! She tells us how she dealt with feeling terrified and how it was so worth being brave in the end.

Back in primary and secondary school, I loved acting. Every theatre or acting-connected activity made me so happy. The main reason was: once on stage, I could be all the people I had dreamed of being. Once in real life – I was that shy, very scared girl from a small village. The girl who hates when people shake her hand because she really doesn’t like strangers touching her, both with their words and fingers. From the very beginning, I also knew I couldn’t stay scared like this. As my inside was burning, my eyes got wet and my voice trembled, I tried my best to talk to people. Then, usually I would go home and think about what they might be thinking about me for hours, being so stressed I couldn’t touch my dinner. And there I was: deciding to move out to another country, to study in a different language, to leave all I know to gain all I don’t, fighting with my limitations. Crazy girl.

Here in the Business School, the situation like this is called decision cost. This is probably my favourite concept from this area of study, because although it can be easily applied to all the decisions you need to make while working for the company, it also applies to everyday life. The concept is simple: every decision you make has its own cost. There is no such thing as good or bad choice – each of them will have its disadvantages and advantages, pros and cons. Each decision you make is related to some kind of risk.

So I made the decision and took the risk. Here I was at my first lectures, meeting my first friends in Birmingham (and in the UK), trying to joke in the language that wasn’t my mother tongue, trying to stop my voice from trembling, to keep the fear somewhere deep inside me and not letting anybody know I felt really uncomfortable talking to new people. And from the first day I realized – everybody here is scared. Everybody here is new, and there are probably thousands of people that are scared more than I am. So I decided to go with the flow and let myself be scared. Because the fact that you are scared doesn’t mean you are not brave, or that you are not good.

So I made the decision to let it happen¸ just like in Tame Impala’s song. And I’ve met amazing friends – on my course, and in my amazing society: Model United Nations. People that would discuss everything with me. People full of kindness and respect. Beautiful people.

It was terrifying and risky to come to Birmingham in the first place. But wouldn’t it be risky to stay in Poland as well? I could risk not exploring the world. I could risk not getting to know all those beautiful cultures. I could risk not meeting my amazing lecturers who are now not only my professional referees, but also my dear friends. I could risk not making all these amazing relations with people from around the world, each of them with different point of view, each of them with different story to tell, each of them, oh so kind for me, believing in my abilities more then I will ever do. I could risk not growing and not exploring myself, my abilities and my fear, and not trying to change what I see, change the world I came to.

Also published in Scratch Magazine.

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