It’s difficult for me to comprehend that my program in Dublin is halfway done. Actually, at the time of writing this, I have only 48 days until I hop on a plane and fly back to Michigan. After spending nearly two months in Dublin, it simultaneously feels like I have been here forever and not at all. Now that the end of the semester is in sight, time seems to be slipping by quicker than ever, and I’m trying to find a balance between keeping up with responsibilities and cherishing every fleeting moment that I have left in Dublin.
Any website or study abroad advisor will tell you that there is a pattern to studying abroad. When you first arrive and begin your program, you’ll be on a high, spurred on by traveling, making new friends, and independence like never before. But a few months into the program, once the midway point hits, it’s typical for students to fall into a bit of a slump, stuck in the same routine and feeling the onset of homesickness. I’ve felt this at times myself, wishing for the comfort of having my family and friends nearby, to be able to tell them about all the beautiful parts of Ireland that I wish they could experience alongside me.
But what’s even more vital than the midterm slump is what comes afterward. One of my professors tells us that one of the things he loves most about this program is watching all of his students build momentum. And while I can’t speak for everyone, for me that is exactly what happened. My travel plans have been extending farther outside of Dublin with every passing week. I have a clear direction for my academics and have more motivation than ever for my writing. But most importantly, I’ve grown in confidence.
Rather than traveling outside of the country for midterm break, I was fortunate enough to have my family visit me. I spent the week showing them around Dublin, and that week was when I truly realized how much living in a new city has affected me. Studying abroad forces you to be a more independent person, and it wasn’t until my parents visited that I noticed just how independent I have become.
After spending two months in a foreign place, you’ll know exactly where everything is. You’ll know how to navigate the fastest routes around the city. You’ll know where the best restaurants are, which attractions are worth visiting, what hidden gems the side streets have to offer. You’ll know the norms of the city and feel that you fit in with the people around you. I found when my parents visited that I wasn’t just showing them what tourists would visit in Dublin but also what I’ve found to be my favorite places. I showed them which route I prefer to take to class and which cafés have the best coffee. I showed them my version of the city I’ve come to know and love, and I realized that I have made somewhere that I never could have pictured myself living into a home.
When I first arrived in Dublin, I thought by this point that I’d be dying to go home. But now, whenever I walk around the city, I try to soak in every moment, because I know that as soon as I leave, I’ll be dying for more time.