I’ve been home for a week and it still hasn’t set in that I will not be returning to Trinity College next semester or that I’ll walk back to my apartment building and have dinner with all my friends again. It’s a bitter sweet feeling to know that chapter has ended and another one is about to begin.
Just six days after returning home to New York it was time to celebrate Christmas with my family. Everyone was so excited to ask about my travels, studies, and new friends. Through my conversations with family members, I realized how truly fortunate I was to have the experience of studying abroad in Dublin, Ireland. People repeatedly reminded me of how lucky I was to travel around Europe, study at such a prestigious institution, and thrive in a new culture. Of course, I knew I was fortunate along the way, but it wasn’t until I was home and surrounded by familiar faces that I truly understood the magnitude of my experience.
Studying abroad is such a unique time in your life: you’re in your early twenties with the opportunity to make new friends, study in a new place, and travel. Even though you’re studying, you’re experiencing life through a new lens. Every day is suddenly so much more exciting than the last and the opportunities are endless.
Now that I’m settled back to my “normal life” there are a few things that I miss dearly: seeing my friends every day, walking from my apartment on Bonham Street to Trinity College for classes, having coffee at Costa, eating dinner at the Old Storehouse, and walking through the vibrant streets of the city. While all those things seemed so minute and typical from August to December, I now realize how special they were. As I spend a month home for Winter Break and head back to Gettysburg College in mid-January, I will more intentionally think about the little things along the way. A semester abroad seems like a long time in the beginning, but by the end of the four months, you’ll be wishing you could stay for another one. Utilize your break as a time to reflect on all that you have learned, accomplishment, and experienced.
Here are my final words of wisdom: Start your semester with an open mind and heart, live enthusiastically throughout each day, and look back gratefully when it’s over.