Learning to Stay & Thrive in Your Host City

Sydney Braat
November 28, 2017

The world traveler in me is always itching to go to new places. I got into a rhythm of traveling to a new city every week and not being phased by the early mornings and somewhat chaotic lifestyle. I continued to get my homework done, be present in class, and establish great friendships in my program. Being abroad in Europe is so special because you have the ability to travel for little to nothing.

If you play it right with SkyScanner.net, you have the ability to fly round trip to places for $30 (and sometimes less!) AirBnB has been my true companion, helping me stay in local and unique places for little to nothing as well. So while I’ve seen a new place practically every weekend, I have not blown all my life savings, like some people assume. I’ve learned to be a savvy traveler.

My November travel schedule came to a screeching halt when airline prices rose to ridiculous levels during Thanksgiving weekend. No, they do not celebrate Thanksgiving in Europe, but airlines are still smart enough to raise the prices during a weekend when many people travel to see friends and family. My college student budget just didn’t allow to travel that weekend, so I decided to stay back in Ireland…ugh what a shame! (Hopefully you picked up on my sarcastic tone.) Ireland is so much more than my host city, it’s my second home. Staying back in Dublin certainly is not a disappointment. If anything, it was a chance to fall more in love with one of the most amazing cities in the world!

As abroad students, we can easily get so caught up in visiting new places and ticking off bucket list items. The ridiculously priced airline tickets during Thanksgiving weekend was the biggest blessing I’ve had in a while. It forced me to slow down and actively seek opportunities in my host city.

Here are some things I was extra thankful to do this holiday weekend in my host city of Dublin:

  1. I had the chance to enjoy an IES Abroad family dinner for Thanksgiving. Sitting in a room with fifty other students and staff was incredibly special. One of the students made a banner that said “IES Abroad Dublin T’anksgiving.” There were pictures surrounding the sign of students at different events and trips throughout the semester. It was a bitter sweet moment. We all have a little under a month left in Dublin. Most of us come from all around the United States, if not the world. We may never see each other again, but we all share one very important thing in common: our semester abroad in Dublin, Ireland.

  2. Something I really enjoy doing at home with my family and friends is seeing movies at the theatre. This may seem so outdated with Netflix and having the ability to purchase anything online, but I just love the idea of getting a bunch of popcorn and candy and sitting down to see a movie for the first time. So, this weekend I saw not one, but two movies at the theater on Friday and Saturday night. This may seem miniscule compared to everything else I could’ve done, but I had such a great time bonding with girls from my program.
  3. The Dublin Flea Market happens the last Sunday of every month. Each month I’ve said that I wanted to go, but guess what…I was off exploring another city in Europe! This weekend was finally my chance to meet up with a friend and walk through the flea market stands. I didn’t walk away with any treasures, but it was fun to see all the vintage Irish items. Believe it or not, the vintage items are so different from the things I see at markets in the States. The market was a community event and there were families pushing strollers and enjoying a Sunday morning out. I don’t know what took me so long to do this!
  4. As if this weekend could not get any more fun, I signed up to do a day trip to Cork and Blarney with another IES Abroad student. I love spending time with my group of friends, but there’s also something special about spending one-on-one time with newly formed friends. I knew that I had to visit these two very important Irish cities during my time here. We hopped on a bus at 6:50 a.m. and drove South West towards the Blarney Stone (yes, I kissed it!) and then finally Cork. I was surprised at how different the accents were from the East Coast and how much smaller the towns were. Living in Dublin, it’s easy to forget that most of the country is a lot different from the capitol city. I’m so grateful I had the opportunity to visit Cork and Blarney with Lauren.

When we arrive to Europe for a semester abroad, we suddenly awaken to the idea that the world is our oyster. We have everything at our finger tips and we’re filled with so much enthusiasm to accomplish everything on our bucket list. By all means, I hope you see everything you want to see, but don’t forget to enjoy and thrive in your host city. Remember why you chose this destination in the first place. I never forgot how much I loved Dublin, but I was so concerned with visiting Europe as a whole that I didn’t realize how little time I have left in this incredible place. Actively search for events happening in your community, like book fairs or holiday concerts. You’ll be surprised by how connected those activities will make you feel to your community.

Sydney Braat

<p>I am always on the go, whether I am traveling, exploring new cafes in New York, or covering events throughout Long Island for my internship with Hamptons.com. I find so much joy in new experiences and ultimately think my passion for travel has helped me become the person I am today.</p>

Home University:
Gettysburg College
Westhampton Beach, NY
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