Skip to main content

International Exchange

A Year Abroad And… Mental Health

5 March 2020

This blog is going to be the first in a weekly series. Each week I will write about topics that nearly stopped me going on my year abroad and how they have shaped my experience for the better or the worse.

I knew before I came to Canada that I wanted to write this particular blog post but, as you can imagine from the title, it’s not exactly an easy one to write!

As lots of you will already know, I suffer from bad anxiety and also depression. In Feb-March 2019, it got to a point where I was having a really hard time coping with University life due to my mental health issues: I was struggling to meet deadlines, attend doctors appointments and even interact with my flatmates and friends. Naturally, everybody around me was asking ‘if you feel like this in Cardiff, where all your family and friends are- how are you going to cope in Canada?’

I began to doubt myself. After so many years of being desperate to do a year abroad, I started to question whether it was the best thing for me. It was then that my ambitious, and slightly stubborn, side kicked in- I wasn’t going to give up on my dream.

So, off I went to Vancouver- telling myself that this year would be better and, in general, it has.

I won’t say that this year has been easy, it’s hasn’t. There have been days where I haven’t been able to leave my room; days where I have felt so lonely I couldn’t cope and days where I have had numerous panic attacks.


There have also been days where I have felt on top of the world; days where I felt so proud of myself I have cried and days where I have just walked around and taken in the incredible country I am lucky enough to live in.

I will say that my year abroad has probably been much more difficult than it probably is for the average person however I am so glad that I did it because this experience has been so rewarding and has changed my life for the better. I have made great friends, I’m getting good grades (that I’m working my socks off for!) and I’ve found a part-time job I love!

All in all, if you are in the same situation as I was last year- debating whether a year abroad really is the best thing for you, obviously I can’t tell you what is best for you, but I say do it. If I can, then you can!

Three Things I am looking forward to tomorrow:

  1. A lie in!

2. Talking to Sam

3.New episode of Drag Race!

If you are a Cardiff Student who feels like they need help, do not hesitate to reach out. Check out Cardiff University Support for available resources:


  1. Paul O'Reilly

    Well done. We are so proud of you. There were always going to be difficult times, there would be for anyone, but you worked through those, kept going, and showed resilience. You will onlh benefit for the experience. Enjoy, and I mean ENJOY the last few weeks of your time in Canada, and San Francisco, and see you soon. xxx

  2. Sam Mordey-Jones

    Very proud of you and everything you’ve achieved x

  3. Sheila O'Reilly

    The last year has been, as you say, one of ups and downs, but really proud of the way you have ‘fronted’ it head on , and what’s more worked hard and achieved extremely good and positive results. Do not in any way beat yourself up about your feelings, many people would not have stood the test and come through it. You are an inspiration to others and it will not be too long now until you can put your hands in the air and shout ‘ I DID IT’ ……. Tell YOURSELF you are an amazing person … afterall – we know you are. See you soon xxxx Love Nan and Grandad xxxx

  4. Louisa

    Yet another great post! (Am I surprised…no I’m not!) It’s amazing to see you being so open and honest about your experiences and emotions. There’s such unnecessary stigma attached with mental health, and so we need more people like you to be brave and speak up; so eloquently and honestly like you have done so well. You should be so proud of yourself and everything you’ve accomplished this year, I know I most certainly am! Xx

    • Niamh O'Reilly

      Aw, thank you Weez, having wonderful friends like you certainly helps! x

Comments are closed.