You may be thinking to yourself, “Wow, that monument in the cover photo looks like the Arc de Triomphe in Paris and not like anything in Dublin!” And, if you’re thinking this, you would be right! After my program ended, I spent four days in Paris visiting family and experiencing French culture. It was refreshing to hear a different language, learn about French history, and most importantly, eat an absurd amount of cheese and bread. By the end of the excursion, though, I felt ready to return to Dublin and head back to the United States shortly after.
As I write my last blog post in the exact same spot as I wrote the first one, I realize how different I am from who I was then. Nine weeks ago, all I could feel was nervousness, anxiety, and dread over what life would be like in Dublin. I remember just two days before my flight to Ireland, I was second guessing ever signing up for the trip. It’s almost laughable now because I felt the exact same way when I was packing my things to come home. Angst over what life would be like at home filled my body and even more so, I felt myself not wanting to leave at all.
I’m finding it difficult to find the words to describe just how amazing my experience was. From meeting new people in the workplace and on campus, to trying new foods and drinks, and to exploring different parts of Ireland, I really believe I made the most of my trip. I completely immersed myself in Irish culture in every way possible which made saying goodbye that much harder.
A few days before the trip came to a close, my friends and I decided to go around and share the ways in which we have all grown. It took me awhile to ponder and accept this prompt, but I eventually decided on learning to stay present. Over the past two months, I’ve realized that living in the moment is more important than we all believe. Staying present and enjoying my surroundings is something I took for granted before going abroad, and even thinking about it makes me regret all the precious moments I may have missed by checking my phone or focusing on my next task during every day life.
During the first week of my time in Ireland, I made the decision to not buy an Irish SIM card and rely solely on Wifi if I needed to connect. I bought a ‘burner’ phone at a local phone shop to text with my friends and coworkers, but that phone only lasted about ten days before I ran out of minutes. I could have gone back to the store to buy more data for texts and calls, but I figured it wouldn’t have been worth it. If I had Wifi, I could communicate with people from home, text and call my coworkers via WhatsApp, and stay connected on all social media.
For the most part, this plan worked out well. The Dublin bus system provides Wifi on all the buses in the city, which turned out to be very helpful when I wouldn’t know where to go. There was Wifi provided with our housing and I had no problem getting access to the network in the office on my first day. There were only three times that I can remember when I wished I had bought a SIM card: once when I was lost in North Dublin after a work event and the two other times were when my supervisors tried to get ahold of me about work plans. These were stressful times then, but looking back, I’m happy with my decision to stay disconnected. It allowed me to really take in everything around me, which opened my eyes to a city I could see myself coming back to after graduation.
Before going abroad, I never understood the concept of letting things happen without any plan at all. Maybe this is because of smart phones or maybe it’s just because of our fast-paced lifestyle that we live in. During my twenty-one years in the United States, I have learned to think about my next activity at all times. Living and working in Dublin made me take deep breaths, explore my strengths and weakness, and live in the moment — no matter where I was or who I was with. I found myself to be a much happier version of myself by doing this, and I plan to continue this way of life from now on.
I will forever cherish the memories I made during this summer of 2022, as it really has changed my perspective on many aspects of life. The company for which I worked, Limelight Communications, allowed me to explore my strengths in the public relations field, and it even showed me that I may wish to work in public relations post-graduation (as an indecisive person, this could still change but for now, I’m going with it.) Everyone I met — including people from Ireland, the United States, and everywhere in between — was extremely friendly and helped me with my growth. I look forward to my senior year of college keeping all of the lessons I have learned in mind. And with that, I’m signing off. Thanks for letting me keep this blog as a personal journal!