Heartbreakingly, my study abroad experience has come to an end. My time here went by much faster than I could have expected, and as happy as I am of going back to Texas and using my rice cooker again, I’ve already had to stop myself from crying a dozen times as I said goodbye to my new friends.
My only regret going back home is how long it took me to open up to my teammates and friends here, that is, the people I met through the Trinity College societies. As an introvert, it takes me about a semester to start to get comfortable with people. But a semester was all I had here, and suddenly there was only a few weeks left. I regret not having the courage to open up earlier, because they have all been the sweetest people I’ve met in a while, genuinely happy to meet and spend time with you. I can’t recommend enough to find groups to join at local colleges or of the city to make friends.
Coming to Ireland, my goal was to meet new people and see more of the world, to enjoy part of my last year in college. And I can confidently say that I’ve reached my goal. In addition, I think I’ve both grown as a person and learned about myself. Having to travel alone at times, forced me to be more comfortable being independent and braver. In a sense, this also helped me become more confident, mostly because I had no choice but to do things on my own and seeing that I could do them certainly is a confidence-booster. For example, walking the Queen Maeve Trail alone.
While in Ireland, as I don’t come from money, I never went to other European countries despite the flights being cheaper than from America. I also only was able to go to the West Coast because of how budgeting and scheduling worked out for me, but I don’t regret my experience here. And even if you also find yourself limiting your experience to your hosting city and the closer, more accessible ones, I can say that as long as you don’t compare your experience to those of others who might be able to travel more, you will find contentment in your experience.
Finally, while Ireland is very different from the USA, connecting to people on a personal level, I notice the cultural differences but I also realize that we have a tendency to focus on our differences more than our similarities. Truly, it’s our similarities that allow us to connect with others and, if not friends, at least understand who they are. Going home, I believe that similarities are what will bring people together independently of whether we are from different countries or just from different parts of the same country.
My only word of advice before going is that maybe you shouldn’t schedule your return home flight going out at 5 a.m. It was rough.
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The first time I met one of my best friends, she thought I hated her. I was just busy thinking of things we could have in common to continue the conversation. Since then, I have gotten better at the talking part. I'm not sure I've gotten better at the friendlier appearance part. Just know that I'm always excited to meet someone new!