It’s hard to believe it has been over a year since I studied abroad in Ireland, but not a day goes by that I don’t think about my incredible experience there.
I’ve said it before…Ireland is not all that different from America. Yet my time there was so transformative and different from anything I’ve ever experienced at home. I met amazing people. I learned a lot…like really learned, not just showed up for class and took a few notes, but actually immersed myself in the history, politics, and literature of Ireland to better understand the country and our world. When I got back to my home college, inspired by my IES education, I enrolled in art history, gender studies, and acting classes, departing from my usual business and communications curriculum.
During my senior year in Ithaca, I often went to a local pub that played Irish music on Tuesday nights. Every week was different, but each time I went I was reminded of the many nights I spent in Dublin’s pubs listening to traditional music and hanging out with good friends.
Anyone who travels abroad will inevitably catch the travel bug. What I miss most about Ireland is probably what everyone misses about studying abroad. The adventure. The spontaneity. The simultaneous confusion and exhilaration of getting lost. The whole semester is a time of unlimited possibilities. When I came home, I realized that it’s difficult to keep traveling and maintain the same kind of spontaneity, but I tried to keep up the adventure.
In January, along with 17 other students, I drove from Ithaca, NY to Birmingham, Alabama for a Habitat for Humanity service trip. Then in March, I jetted off to Amsterdam to visit a friend for my spring break. Now, I’ve graduated and although I don’t know what the future holds, I know I will always make a point to keep exploring and having adventures, no matter how big or small.
I recently took a yoga class and at the end of the class, the teacher quoted author Kurt Vonnegut:
“I urge you to please notice when you are happy, and exclaim or murmur or think at some point, ‘If this isn’t nice, I don’t know what is.’”
This quote and the idea of it resonated with me because it’s something that being abroad taught me. I learned to live in the moment, be thankful for the opportunities I have, and reflect on them. I took this attitude with me throughout my senior year at Ithaca College. Instead of being sad about graduating, I look forward to what’s next.
I advise anyone studying abroad to just enjoy every moment, push yourself out of your comfort zone, and immerse yourself in your academics, the culture, and your local community.
Someday, I will return to Ireland.