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Second Time's a Charm!

Welcome to my IES Abroad Blog! Fortunately, you don’t need your passport, because I’m here to take you on a virtual trip around Europe! I think that’s my favorite part about technology: you can travel the world without having to physically be there (of course it’s 10x better if you’re there in person!) Social media, blogs, and books have always inspired me to travel as much as I can. My passion for travel and writing is the perfect combination and I hope to inspire my readers every day to step a little bit more out of their comfort zone and experience the beauty of the many cultures around the world. My name is Sydney Braat and I’m a senior at Gettysburg College. I’m thrilled to be studying English and Irish Studies at Trinity College Dublin for my second semester abroad. Last Fall, I had the opportunity to study abroad at Lancaster University in Northern England. I loved studying in Europe so much I just had to do it again before my time was up!

While abroad last Fall, I had the opportunity to travel to 14 countries! I visited a new place (and sometimes more than one) every weekend. I was shocked by the inexpensive flights, AirBNBs, and accessibility. I can’t think of a single place in the US that you can fly to for 30 pounds round-trip! I fully took advantage of my semester abroad, to say the least. I’m most excited to return to a continent where travel is so accessible. It’s very important to me to experience new places, unknown languages, undiscovered food, and new people. I can undoubtedly say that travel has made me the confident, passionate, and optimistic person that I am today. I was raised to be a go-getter, but in hindsight, it wasn’t until my semester abroad last Fall that I changed into a much better version of myself. I went on solo-trips and group trips. Each of them changed me in different ways and I can’t tell you how wonderful it is to relive those special weekends through memories and pictures. I’m beyond thrilled to spend the semester in Dublin, one of the most beautiful cities in the world, but also can’t wait to visit more of Europe. I’m ready to take on this new adventure!

I have always had a strong connection to Ireland as my Dad’s family lives there. Studying and living in Dublin seemed like the perfect way to expand my educational experiences and connect with my family’s heritage on a deeper level. I’ve already fallen in love with Dublin, but I’m most looking forward to appreciating the city on a more intellectual and educational level.

So, this semester abroad is quickly approaching. I’m sure you’ll hear dozens of people say: don’t over pack! I was told that last Fall and thought I packed lightly, but I really didn’t. Word of the wise: You do not need warm weather clothing! I packed way too many cute, summer outfits thinking I’d wear them. I didn’t! Ireland and most of Europe just don’t have the same climate as many US cities do. I’ve learned my lesson and this time around, I’m packing very lightly knowing that I’ll be in pants and sweaters the entire semester!

Take a page from my book and remember there are stores in Dublin! You can always buy something you forget and you will be able to do laundry! The best piece of advice I was told last year was to pack a week's (or a little more) worth of clothing. Here's a brief packing list:

  • 3-4 pairs of pants (jeans or corduroys)
  • 4-5 sweaters
  • Long sleeve t-shirts
  • 1 or 2 dressy tops (for nice dinners or events)
  • T-shirt/versatile dresses (Go for comfort!)
  • Exercise clothing: 1-2 pairs of leggings, 5 comfy t-shirts (I’m planning on joining a gym while there!)
  • Pajamas
  • A week’s worth of socks/undergarments (reminder: do your laundry!)
  • One pair of running sneakers, fashion sneakers (Stan Smiths, Vans, etc.), strappy sandals, Fall/Winter boots, and dressy shoes. Comfort is an essential with shoes while abroad!
  • Toiletries: I’m going to save the weight in my luggage and buy toiletries once I arrive. 
  • Accessories: hat, scarf (a must), gloves, cross body purse (for quick excursions), backpack (for day-long excursions & classes), a shoulder purse (to carry more than a satchel would)
  • Most important (in my opinion): a journal! You should document each and every day of your abroad experience. I read my journal from last Fall and can’t help but smile at all the minute details I have already forgotten! You think you will remember everything, but I promise you, you won’t!
  • Electronics: Laptop/iPad, camera, phone, chargers, converters/adapters (Note: Apple products won't need a converter, only an adapter)

I’m sure I’m missing something, but the main idea is to pack lightly! You really don’t need that much. I remember thinking, “Oh my gosh, four months is such a long time to be away from home. I need to pack everything that is remotely important to me!!” I was so wrong. Remember, you’ll be carrying everything you bring. Most importantly, to me, it’s more about the experiences rather than the things you have or purchase.

For those who are going abroad for the first time, It’s important to know that four months may seem like a long time, but I promise it’s not. Time will fly by faster than you want, so go into this experience with an eager heart and an open mind. Most importantly, get ready for the best four months of your life! As I prepare to embark on this new journey, I am most looking forward to all the new people I will meet, the places I will see, and the cultures I will experience. See you in Dublin!