The night before I left Dublin, I spent a couple of hours with a group of fellow students who had become like family. We laughed and reminisced and made a promise for a future reunion, which is usually how those sort of goodbyes tend to go. But I think we really meant it.
Upon asking one of my IES Abroad mates what his favorite part of the semester was, he told me it was “hanging out with people.” He said that it wasn’t so much the city itself that he would miss, but the friendships he had made and the people he had met along the way.
And I agree with him.
Meeting the other students in the program, who were from all different parts of the U.S., allowed me to gain a new perspective of both the world and my home country by listening to their views and sharing experiences of home and our time in Europe. My roommates alone became like family members, ones who I would most definitely send a holiday card to in the mail -- or at least a nice Facebook message, which is more the style these days. We would often share food and eat dinner together, chat until the wee hours of the morning, and even share clothes at times. Their company was a treat and we all supported each other through our journey abroad.
But... don’t get me wrong, I also fell head over heels -- pardon the cliché -- for the city of Dublin. I feel like it has become a second home to me, one I am determined to get back to one day.
It was there that I discovered my passion for travel, people, photography and writing – I had always appreciated these things, of course, but Dublin made me fall in love.
I had an urge to explore Ireland, venturing to the south, west, and north, becasue the idea of a legend coming to life at the Giant’s Causeway or the irresistible allure of an adrenaline rush standing atop the Cliffs of Moher made me an explorer on the weekends and a dreamer in between.
And the people – Irish, of course, and those from all over the globe -- who I encountered or befriended in Ireland were amiable and unforgettable. For instance, the night I left my internship on my very last day, I was walking to the bus stop with tears in my eyes. And out of the blue, an old woman approached me.
This woman, about 4 inches shorter than my 5-foot-2-inch frame, with big, round glasses, came out of a crafts fair and approached me. She smiled and started randomly telling me all about the treasures they offered inside this fair, which sparked a 20-minute conversation. And soon enough, she asked me about my watery eyes. So I told her about my short time left in Ireland and how I didn’t want it to be over.
She responded with something a long the lines of this: “That is the biggest mistake people make – they are sad when things are over, but they forget that they should be happy it happened. People should be grateful and embrace their next step in life, knowing those experiences will always be a part of them and will help guide them in the future.”
My eyes dried instantly. Her words impacted me in a way I still can’t understand; they sunk in, and suddenly I was grateful in that moment, happy to be busing home from Ballsbridge for the last time – because it happened, and I was proud of that. Just as you should be after your adventures studying abroad. Your experiences and memories are your own; never forget, and bring them with you wherever you go.
It has been an absolute pleasure blogging about my little life in Dublin. Thanks for reading. <3
Creative, intellectual and personal highlights:
In Dublin, I found a muse – well, a bevy of muses actually. I had become obsessed with the regal swans of the Grand Canal. They are majestic pearly white creatures that always appeared fierce and as if posing just for me. So on multiple occasions (which I should probably not admit), I had photo shoots at the Grand in all different sorts of lighting, catching the swans in the orangey hues of sunset or the crisp colors of a warm day at noon. They are quite the sight to see. You should definitely visit them.
And the amount of writing I was able to get done while in Dublin is astonishing. I exercised my brain in both journalistic and creative writing, using the city center and the rest of the Emerald Isle as inspiration. Now, I have articles, short stories, and poems as pieces for my portfolios in both respective fields. And they serve as great sentimental documentation of my time abroad.
During my 4ish months in Dublin, my professors taught me a great deal; my internship boosted my confidence in my career field; and the people I met changed me for the better. I truly believe I made life-long friends while on this trip, and I have Ireland to thank for that.
It was no exaggeration when they told me it was the “land of a thousand welcomes”. And beautifully and mysteriously enough, it only took a few to make me feel at home.
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<p>Hello, I’m Christena, a 4th-year journalism student at the University of Florida, who has decided to spend a semester experiencing the wonders of Dublin, Ireland. I am passionate about traveling, food, reading, writing and experiencing new and beautiful cultures. I’m a 21-year-old with a thirst for knowledge and adventure, and I’m excited to share all that I find abroad! Happy readings and a jolly good day to you!</p>