With only two weeks left in my spring semester in Dublin, I find myself looking back on my experiences this semester. Dublin has been an incredible adventure that I am grateful for everyday, however, there were various challenges that I faced over the past three months.
The biggest challenge I faced while living in Dublin was feeling like an outsider. Feeling like an outsider is an inevitable feeling while going abroad, but don’t fret, you’ll be able to deal with it! It is tricky packing up most of your belongings and moving to a new city. You realize the various things you took for granted back home. For example, knowing the bus routes by heart, knowing your way around campus, recognizing friends on the street, or even having strangers understand what you’re saying. Although I did not have an official language barrier in Dublin, there were several times that I was not be able to communicate with the people I met because of our differing accents. During my first week of classes in Dublin, I had several embarrassing moments where I tried to speak with professors, but was unsuccessful because my accent was too difficult to understand. After moments like these, I found myself missing home and the ease of knowing my surroundings.
These bouts of homesickness and feelings of being an outsider did not last for long though. I found the best way to overcome these feelings was to go out and explore with the amazing friends I have made here. Despite how alone I felt at times, I found that my friends all had similar experiences. They were going through their own forms of homesickness as well. We found the best way to get over these feelings was to confide in each other and then get out of our apartments. As tempting as it is to stay in and watch Netflix, too many of these nights can lead to missing home. So we forced each other to go downtown and enjoy exploring our beautiful host city.
I feel that I have learned a great deal throughout this semester abroad. I have learned to navigate a new city and various other cities I have visited along the way. I have learned to put myself out their in order to meet people in all the cities I have traveled. I have made life-long friends over the past few months and I look forward to keeping in touch with them when I return home.
For all future study abroad students, my best advice for you is to just relax and enjoy the journey. There will be times where you’ll miss your home and you will feel overwhelmed in your host city, but these feelings do not last forever. Use these feelings to put yourself out there and explore. Meet new people and enjoy the incredible experience of living on the other side of the world. We are all incredibly lucky to have this experience, so don’t let it pass you by!
Until next time…