Leaving Ireland was incredibly bittersweet. As I stared out the window, flying over the beautiful green countryside, I wondered if I will ever return to this place. I hope I will be able to visit Dublin again in my life. I learned so much about myself and the world around me. I gained a myriad of skills that I never realized an abroad experience could provide. I also met amazing people that I will never forget.
Ireland is both similar to American culture and the Irish are extremely welcoming to Americans. Because of this, I believe Dublin is a great stepping stone to traveling to other parts of the world. I feel much more comfortable in the future to explore other parts of Europe and beyond. During my two months based out of Dublin I also spent weekends in: Madrid, Spain, London, England, and Frankfurt, Germany. Without the self-confidence I gained from living in Dublin, I would have never seen myself taking those trips. It was difficult to fit in a whole city in just a weekend. I hope in the future I can take longer trips in the countries I visited. There is so much to see around the world, it can be a bit overwhelming. Truly, it is an unrealistic goal to visit every country and culture in a lifetime. I am going to try my best.
The professional experience I gained in Ireland is unmatched by any workplace I could have been part of in the states. I was amazed by the kindness shown by my coworkers. My superiors were eager to help me understand the industry and encourage my professional development. It is hard to think about if I will ever see them again. Saying goodbye was a difficult experience because I had to leave out the phrase, ‘see you soon’. Maybe one day I will cross paths with my Irish acquaintances; but only time will tell.
The greatest skill I gained while abroad was a feeling of self-sufficiency. This came from both the professional and personal environment I was in. Professionally, I was in charge of motivating myself to get out of bed at 7:15 a.m. every morning and getting to work. In addition, continuing this motivation to get my work done and even ask for more if I wasn’t getting enough. I also had to manage my work-life balance. One of the biggest challenges I faced was being able to get moving and exercise after a long day of work. It’s hard to believe how draining it can be to sit at a desk for 8 hours a day. Most of the time I just wanted to leave the office and go right to bed or eat a big meal full of carbs. I was proud that I forced myself to go to the gym, because it re-energized me and made me feel so much better. Another part of my work-life balance was remembering my passions and hobbies. To be honest, I lost sight of these a little bit. I am a gigantic music person whether it be singing, playing guitar or watching live music. In the beginning of the program I didn’t pursue the things I enjoyed because I wanted to follow the crowd of the other students on the program. This led to spending money on activities I didn’t enjoy, wasting time wandering around without a purpose, and overall not getting the most out of what Dublin had to offer. About halfway through the program I was able to turn this around. I made it a priority in my mind to take advantage of the things I wanted to do and pursue my own happiness over others. Looking back if I were to change one thing about how I acted it would be to put myself first because you only study abroad once in life.
Along with the amazing Irish people I interacted with, I also enjoyed sharing experiences with other American students. I feel like we all grew and experienced new things together. Because of this, I made some great friendships that I hope will last beyond the program.
I will never forget Ireland. The gorgeous green rolling hills on the countryside, the old charming city centre, even my bare boned apartment filled with ants! It was an experience I am so grateful for. I often think about how many Americans spend their whole lives without leaving the country. I believe this is so unfortunate whether it be because of a financial restriction or just because they don’t see the benefits of traveling. I feel so proud and confident as a result of this program.