One Month Ago/One Month Later

Grace DeMun
January 12, 2016

Last weekend I was in my local movie theater sitting next to my sister. On screen, an Irish woman was dramatically looking out across a weathered landscape, her lovely accent narrating the scene.

I leaned over excitedly to my sister, whispering, “She’s Irish!” and nudging her. She nodded and laughed.

Since being back from Ireland, I feel like this has happened quite a bit to me. I hear something or see something that reminds me of Ireland and feel the immediate need to tell someone around me about it. It’s such a bittersweet feeling—initial excitement of a remembered memory, followed by a twinge of sadness. It is these moments where I miss Dublin the most.

It is difficult to articulate exactly how much my study abroad experience in Ireland affected me and how much it meant to me. I find myself sometimes feeling frustrated after conversations I have with others who ask, “How was Ireland?” I walk away feeling flustered, wishing I could have thought of a response that went beyond the simple, “It was amazing!” It’s helpful for me to really sit down and consider my answer more thoughtfully in this final blog post, as difficult as it may be.

Academically and professionally, I feel as if I have made great strides in my pursuits of an education and of a future career through my experience in Dublin. I had amazing professors (Stephen McMahon, Regina Fitzpatrick, Michelle Piazza, Michael Murray, and Seamus White to name a few!) and I also couldn’t say enough about the IES Abroad Dublin on-site staff who made a huge impact on helping with my studies, my mental health, and my overall familiarity with the city as well. I feel as if learned at least a portion of famous Irish writers, both ancient and contemporary, and I also feel as if I have learned a bit about the Irish culture and language. On top of that, my internship at Spirasi revealed to me the workings of a non-profit, as well as the ways in which refugees and asylum seekers must work within the legal system in order to gain status and citizenship. Quite an interesting mix of information and experiences, on the whole.

Personally, my study abroad experience impacted me in more ways than I can count. I went into it expecting to stay within Ireland in my travels, to meet some locals, and to get to know the country that I would be calling home for three months. I had made goals for myself to be open and honest with everyone I met, and to be flexible with whatever came my way. Never did I realize that I would go above and beyond these expectations and goals and end up making deep, meaningful connections with people, and traveling to not one, but four different countries outside of Ireland. I feel as if I have come to learn so much more about myself, both in strengths (my adventurous ability to travel into the unknown and to be okay with getting lost) and in weaknesses (having too many expectations for others and holding them to much too high of a standard). Since coming back, I feel in every part of myself a newfound confidence I didn’t have before, and a broader understanding of the world as a whole. It might sound cheesy, but I truly feel as if my study abroad experience changed my entire outlook on my life and on myself.

Being back in the States, I feel as if I have returned with a breath of fresh air in my lungs and a renewed vigor for my future. There are things that I have gained and lost in coming back home from Dublin, but I think that I now know for sure: I will definitely be going back.

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Grace DeMun

<p>Hailing from Tacoma, WA, I&#39;m a English Literature and Psychology major who is thoroughly excited to be traveling an studying in Ireland in the fall. I&#39;ve lived my whole life in the PNW, so I&#39;m interested to see what this new adventure will bring (although weather-wise it seems pretty similar!) I love music and dancing (badly) and I have loved reading and stories for as long as I can remember. I draw the most inspiration and creative juices from experiencing new things and ideas, so I know I&#39;ll be bursting with words to be written and stories to be told during the four months I&#39;m away from home.</p>

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