May the road rise up to meet you...

Kate Jones
August 15, 2016

Advice upon departure: “This summer is about you. With that being said, don’t be selfish, be self-aware.” This was the best advice I was given before studying abroad. One of my friends who was about to graduate college was reflecting on her study abroad experience and how it affected her as she prepared to enter the “real world.” She also encouraged me to give myself the opportunity to see how I as an individual worked on my own. Even more importantly, she said, let the culture inform me on how my life plays into the larger society.

Prepare for change: Studying abroad challenged normalcy and comfortability by introducing a new culture into my lifestyle. I was able to view myself in a new light and to see how I interacted and reacted to the world around me. Moving to college a few years ago was a similar experience, yet I still had relatives close by and the comforts of home just a few hours away. Living in a different country definitely showed me how I could rely on myself. Even more though, studying in a different country gave me the opportunity to integrate myself into a new society and rely on my peers for advice, support, and friendship.

Embrace the differences: Culturally, Ireland has a slower paced, more relaxed lifestyle. There is so much more concentration on truly living, not filling the day only with work, but also time with family and friends. Experiencing this difference encouraged me to enjoy life in the moment more and be less concerned with the future.

Be thankful for home: Coming back to the states reminded me of all the amazing opportunities and amenities we have here. The size of our grocery stores alone increased my awareness of the conveniences we have in the states. It’s also just good to be back. I forgot how big the mountains are at home. I forgot how nice it is to have a car. I forgot how nice it is to be around family. So coming back, I have been reminded how easy it is to be thankful.

Remember your experience: My summer abroad presented many opportunities for me to learn about myself and learn about the world. What’s even more beautiful, is I was able to share those experiences with people from other places. The friendship I made with my classmates is something I won’t forget. There are experiences that I will look back on, remember this time in my life, and remember the people I was able to share it with. Our lives are short but ever-changing, and although we were only together for a moment of it, it’s amazing to think about how all of our lives were brought together in Ireland.

Looking back, there was one overarching life-lesson I’ll take away from studying abroad. You can find happiness anywhere and with anyone, if you’re looking. So if you’re embarking on a study abroad experience, traveling, starting a new chapter of your life, and even if you’re expanding on a current chapter, look at the world around you and remember that this experience, with these individuals, is momentary. We’ve only got a moment here, so commit yourself to a life seeking joy and sharing it with others - may the road rise up to meet you on your journey.

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Kate Jones

<p>Hi! My name is Kate Jones and I&#39;m a Dramatic Arts and Performance Studies double major at UNC Chapel Hill. I am jazzed to start my study abroad program concentrating in acting this summer in Dublin, Ireland. This is my third time traveling to Ireland which should give you some insight into how much I love this country and it impact it has made on my life. I cannot wait to experience it again, but as a student this time around!</p>

2016 Summer 1, 2016 Summer 2
Home University:
University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill
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