The following post was written by Global Gap Year Fellow Nya Patton who spending the second half of her Gap Year in Northern Ireland.

For my first placement, I lived in a cabin in the rainforest, all by myself, with no one around but a couple of neighbours. At first, I revelled in my freedom, happy to be in a place where I could be alone, reflect on my experiences in private, and be responsible for taking care of myself. It was a starking contrast from my home environment, and I was finally free to explore the world without the constant supervision and influence of my parents. However, as time passed it became obvious to me that I was not as prepared as I thought I was to live in such isolation. Whenever I felt lonely at home I would go downstairs and interact with my family, cuddle with my little sisters and watch a movie. However, in the rainforest, I didn’t really have this option. In retrospect, knowing what kind of living environment is necessary for your development as a person and your overall well-being is so important! Environment and mental health go hand in hand; but, as difficult as it was to live so separated from others, I’m so grateful for what it has taught me about myself and what I need in a living space to feel happy, supported, and fulfilled.

So when it was time to relocate to Northern Ireland, I became excited at the prospects of moving in with a local family and having company whenever I really needed it. I was soon to be living with a mother and two daughters and would be surrounded by familial energy whenever I needed it. Through the process of moving in with this family, I have learned a couple of tips that one should consider doing before moving into someone’s household. First, make sure to have a couple of phone calls! Establish what it is they expect of a guest and learn about their family dynamic before deciding to live with them. Make sure to inform them of any dietary needs, and other important aspects of your lifestyle, and ask them if they have any house rules or requirements they expect you to fulfill. If they do, ask yourself if they fit in with the kind of experience you want. Lastly, when you do move in, know that you may at first feel like you are encroaching on their space, but that that feeling will soon go away, and you’ll feel at home in no time!