I’ve managed to survive just over one month living abroad, and the countdown to leave has begun. Along with the seven other people I’ve lived with, we’ve managed to form quite the positive experience here in Dublin. At first it was a test of adaptation and a game of who would dare to figure out the rules nearly everywhere we went. For example, the first morning we arrived it was decided we all desperately needed to visit the grocery store across the street from our housing named Lidl. We were wrecked from the plane ride and in need of toiletries, so we flooded inside, took our baskets and filled them with the essentials—bread, vegetables, shampoo, soap, paper towels, cooking oil, stacks of half-pound Irish Hamburger meat, salts and spices, and whatever else we thought we needed. It was a grand time bumping around and pointing out strange products and smelling the pastries. We were smiling until we brought ourselves to checkout and realized, to our horror, the devastating “bring-your-own-bags” policy of Irish markets. We’d been conditioned to expect the opposite, but with our heads held high we scooped up our loose groceries and hiked back to where we came.
Painful adaption like this has been the only rule to abide as I’ve gotten to know life outside of the United States. It’s often been difficult and stressful, and every day I’m racked with a terrible suspicion that today will surely be the day I make that one fatal mistake that will destroy my reputation and confidence forever. I’ll be walking along in a park and break some unknown law somewhere, and before I can even plea with the Garda they will have me for good, caught red-handed being a fool. The dreadful part of learning to live abroad is that eventually—whether I you want to or not—you will have to be a fool. Every so often when I’ve been in an unknown place, I’ve had to be a fool and ask for directions. If I need to buy something but don’t know where, I must be a fool. Even just ordering food from a local joint, sometimes, I’ve had to be a fool. However, being a fool is not the same as incompetence or stupidity or annoyance, it just means I’ve had to bother the closest person who looks qualified to answer my foolish questions; and it was these moments of uncertainty and doubt where I’ve grown and adapted the most. I’ve learned to love being a fool, because in the end it has made me less foolish.
In one week’s time I will have turned in the final papers and bubbled the final exams and be top speed sitting in the middle seat of a jetliner across the Atlantic back to Indiana. This summer has been a very fulfilling and complex set of experiences inside and outside the classroom. It’s difficult to explain the weight of the lessons I’ve learned, and even more difficult to describe the meaning the friends I’ve made hold to me. Perhaps it’s because the experience itself is meant to elude description, perhaps if I could accurately describe it fully, it wouldn’t be very interesting, would it? What I can describe, however, is that I’m extremely grateful for the people that encouraged and allowed me to live out this summer journey. If not for them I am confident I wouldn’t be in Dublin creating life-long memories. Only one week left of an extraordinary journey, I won’t be after wasting it.
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<p>I'm a Senior studying English at IUB and will graduate in the Fall. A few things about me: I've played and studied music all my life, I enjoy the company of close friends, and I love being outdoors in the summer. Looking past graduation, I'm planning for a journalism career so this opportunity is great for me.</p>