With the finals rush coming to an end and the countdown to my early morning flight back to the US waning, it is time to say goodbye to Dublin! In this bittersweet moment, I am happy to be heading home for the holidays, yet still longing for more travel experiences. The past three and a half months have been an incredible journey, where I learned so much about myself and the world around me. This was my first and longest international time away from family and friends and it came with a lot of adjustments. Living in Philly, my parents and family were only about an hour and a half away in NJ. If I did need anything, they have always been a train ride away. If I wasn’t self-reliant before, this study abroad experience truly gave me a perspective in independence. In adjusting to a new environment in a new country with new people, there was definitely a learning curve. Navigating the streets, understanding the public transportation systems, learning the best walking route to the grocery store. With the limited time I had in Dublin, I dove right into making the most of the city and getting accustomed to living here. When making trips to other countries, I learned how to be a safe traveler, keeping track of my belongings and being vigilant. My flight back to the US was a breeze, since I was so comfortable navigating airport security lines and customs.
I became more confident in my interactions with others and integrating into a new cultural environment. In traveling to different cities and countries, I find myself thinking in more worldly terms. Flying from Philly to Dublin and then from Dublin to other countries in the UK and Europe, I have gained a scale to how huge our world is and how many people exist in this same time and space. It gave a perspective on how endless the experiences and opportunities are beyond the town I grew up in or the college campus that I live on. Within Ireland, I made the most of my weekends taking day trips, even just a short train ride away to the coastline for the beautiful views and hikes. I have always been up for an adventure and my time in Ireland just fueled my love for nature and the outdoors.
To conclude, I have now lived through the “changing my life” experience that everyone mentions about study abroad. Though I will miss all the friends I made this semester and all of my favorite spots in Dublin, I am optimistic about the future, and I know I will definitely make an effort to travel as much as possible when I can.
Slainte Ireland! I had an incredible time!