Dublin Odyssey: An Anxious Prelude

Isabel Fernandez
August 30, 2021

The reality that I am taking off for Dublin to live abroad for the next four months still hasn’t truly set in yet. I’m not sure it will until my feet are on the ground in Ireland.

Even all the preparation I’ve done feels so far away. The mountains of articles I read about Irish social norms, the weeks I spent planning what to pack (which I overruled at the last second to just pack it all of course), even the predeparture haircut and phone updates seem like plans for some far-off dream.

I’m hopelessly excited but I can’t deny the slow creep of anxiety that’s settled into my chest. Anxious is my default setting so this is nothing new for me; in fact, my anxiety was one of my motivating factors to study abroad. A big part of going overseas is stepping out of your comfort zone and facing your discomfort head on. Overcoming my social anxiety is not going to be a quick and easy process. I suspect I’m in for a lot of sweat and tears the next few weeks. That isn't to say I'm not happy to be going or that it will even technically go wrong, I just think it’s best to be honest about the stress of new places and culture shock going into this journey.

To keep myself grounded I have a list of affirmations to remember while I breathe. It all generally goes the same way: breathe in and remember that humans are kind and happy to help you when you need it, pause and focus on your body, breathe out and remember any mistakes you make don’t matter in the grand scheme of things so let it go and move onto the next thing. I have to remember that everyone around me will always be more concerned with their own business than watching me fail. And if all logical reassurances fail, I’m not going to be in Ireland forever so anything truly embarrassing can literally be left behind in another country (I’m mostly kidding about that one, but it is a comforting thought). Failure is okay, there are simply things I’m going to do wrong or not understand but every time I’m wrong will end with learning something new and growing from the experience.

I hope to end this experience a lot steadier on my feet than I’m starting, and that kind of person growth requires intention, bravery, and a bit of pure stubbornness. bare minimum, I'm confident in my abilities to be stubborn so I’ll probably be fine. One of the great things about studying abroad is that you're surrounded by your peers who are flying just as blind as you are. IES Abroad staff and students will be there at every turn with me and we’ll all be learning, tripping up, and having fun hand in hand. Mistakes will be made, embarrassment will be had, and all you can do is weather it and learn. Being able to make fun of yourself and move on is an essential skill for any traveler.

Mildly suffocating panic aside, I cannot wait to arrive in my new home for the next few months. I love being a student so I’m ready to finally start classes again. I have lists upon lists of parks and restaurants and old buildings I’m ready to see. Frankly one of the things I’m most immediately excited to do is escape from the intense heat of August in the Midwest.

Relationships look a lot different when you cannot occupy the same physical space, but I’ve promised to actually pick up the phone for a change and I’m ready to adapt how I'm communicating. I’m leaving comprehensive instructions for watering my plants for my lovely roommate. I took a final walk around the Indiana University campus to see it colorful and green one last time before I leave. It’s a beautiful campus and one of my favorite parts of school here in Bloomington. When we return in December, the limestone buildings will blend with grey skies and bare trees. I took in my fill and I’m ready for a new landscape.

I’ve said my goodbyes. It’s time to take a deep breath and move forward. Hello Dublin, I’ll see you soon.

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Isabel Fernandez

<p>Hello! My name is Izzy (they/them) and I’m a senior studying anthropology at Indiana University. Within anthropology, I’m particularly interested in storytelling, intersectionality, and modern concepts of gender. I am studying overseas as a part of the IES Dublin- Irish Studies program in the Fall of 2021. I’m excited to share my adventures and discoveries during my time in Dublin. In my free time, I enjoy listening to alternative music, reading the same 4 books over and over again, and attempting to learn random languages before getting distracted after a few weeks.</p>

2021 Fall
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Indiana University
Bloomington, IN
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