Taking the Leap: Why My Second Semester Abroad Has Been the Best Yet

Sydney Braat
November 1, 2017

Since I arrived in Dublin for my second semester abroad, I had a feeling that this time around would be very different. When you jump into a semester abroad, there is so much to get used to: a new culture, school, accent or language, currency, and overall lifestyle. Whether you travel every weekend or just stay put in your host city, you will inevitably be transformed throughout the four months. I have found it difficult to pin point exactly what is so incredible about an experience until I’ve stepped away from it for a bit. We are now over two months into this IES Abroad program, and I’m feeling very much at home in Dublin. I effortlessly adjusted to life in this city. I didn’t have to learn a new language, everyone has been so welcoming, and Trinity College has been an absolute dream to call my school.

My first semester abroad In London and Lancaster, England was an affiliated program through my college. I had always dreamed of studying in England after becoming more and more passionate about my English major. I also found England to be an easy country to adapt to as an American. Now over a year after my first semester abroad, I’m starting to realize that the experience was too easy. Roughly 40 students from my college went to this program which meant that I didn’t have to work very hard to meet new people. Even though I only knew a handful of people well, I still had the comfort of 40 Gettysburg students at this new school. I passed everyone on a daily basis on my way to class. Everyone generally stuck together with travel plans and we all made an effort to cook our meals together.

Applying and being accepted to an unaffiliated program from my college was an exciting step for me. I knew I wanted to study abroad a second time during my senior year and even more so to study abroad in Dublin. Being an unaffiliated program meant I was going entirely on my own. I’ve been the “new kid” plenty of times before, but for some reason I was worried this semester wouldn’t add up to my first semester. I was so wrong…

Now that I’ve had the chance to step back and compare my two semesters abroad, I’ve become so incredibly appreciative of what IES Abroad has been able to do for me. I have been welcomed into a new community of students and professional staff. I have actually made new (yes new!!) friends! I was worried that I wouldn’t find a group of people that understood my adventurous and enthusiastic personality, but I soon learned that everyone was in the same position as me. Everyone was looking for new friends, which made the process so much easier.

I appreciated the help that IES Abroad provided. We weren’t dropped off at our accommodations and left to fend for ourselves. The support has been endless, and I’m continually comforted that the help is there if I need it.

Lastly, I’m continually pinching myself that I get to call Trinity College my school for the semester. The emotions I feel when I walk through the front gates everyday are indescribable. How cool it is that my school is one of the biggest tourist attractions in the city?!

Now that I am more than halfway done with my second semester abroad, I have had the chance to really assess what makes a successful experience. If you’re questioning whether or not to go through a program that is affiliated with your school or nervous that you won’t know anyone, I hope to ease you that being uncomfortable in the beginning is entirely normal. Today I am so grateful for the new friends that I have made from across the United States and the program that has made this all possible. My second semester abroad has been better than I could have imagined and that is all due to the fact that I took a leap.

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
Explore Blogs