As I am writing this, I am approaching finals week and my last week studying abroad in Dublin with Champlain Abroad, which is, as cliché as it sounds, a bittersweet feeling. I miss my family and my boyfriend back home in the US, but at the same time, I know I will miss Dublin and the life I have come to know here when I am back home.
I’ve had a lot of time to reflect on my experiences over the past few weeks and I always seem to circle back to ways in which I am not the same person that I was when I arrived 4 months ago. Here are just 5 of the many ways studying abroad in Dublin has changed me.
1.) Growing More Independent By Living on My Own
Before coming to Dublin, I had only lived either with my parents or in Champlain College’s campus housing in Burlington, Vermont. I had never had the experience of living with roommates in an apartment, and certainly not living in the middle of a city. To be honest, I was nervous to see if I could succeed in living on my own but now that I’m at the end of my semester, I’m realizing that it wasn’t so hard. Living in Champlain Abroad Dublin’s urban, independent student apartments was a great middle ground between living at home and living on my own in an apartment, mostly because we had a great cleaning staff who cleaned our apartment every week. I also had two great roommates, Emmalee and Michelle, who made living together totally stress-free, which always helps. Going back home, knowing that I have accomplished living on my own in another country, gives me a huge confidence boost that I can live on my own in the US when I return.
2.) Gaining Confidence in Cooking
This sort of goes along with learning to live on my own, but I count this as a separate achievement altogether, simply because it meant so much to me. This was, believe it or not, actually one of my biggest fears before I came to Dublin. I didn’t really know how to cook and somehow had gotten the idea in my head that I was the only one who didn’t know and therefore at a disadvantage. I wondered how I was going to cook for myself and budget my money for buying food. Thankfully, my experience with studying abroad has helped me gain the confidence that I so desperately needed to begin to learn how to cook. Now that I have been cooking for myself for 4 months and learned some basic techniques, I am incredibly interested to learn more! I also gained experience with successfully budgeting my money that I know I will use in the future.
I hadn’t really traveled much before my semester abroad and I was a little hesitant to do so, just because it was something so new that I wasn’t confident in yet. I also didn’t know much about how to use public transportation, how to navigate airports, how to book a hotel or plan a trip, or how to follow a map to get to where I wanted to go. During my semester abroad, I traveled to Amsterdam and Berlin and, through those trips, learned a lot about those things. I am now confident that I can travel successfully and, what’s more, I am inspired to travel more in the future!
4.) Learning About Another Culture
Throughout my semester here, I really got to know a lot about Irish history and culture. My classes taught me a lot about the history, which I had only vaguely heard of before and now, I know a lot more about the Irish perspective as a result of this history. I’ve read Irish authors and am very interested in reading more Irish literature. But I have also gained a global perspective and seen the way that places outside of the culture I grew up with operate. I think that I will remain interested in Ireland and its culture for the rest of my life, as a result of my experiences here.
5.) Getting to Know Dublin so Well
This was something that, during my first few weeks here, I would never thought would have happened. We were given a tour of the city during our first few days here and I found it incredibly confusing and disorienting at first. Again, I had never lived in a city this big before and, there were a few times during my first month here where I got a bit lost. But after I have lived in Dublin for the semester, I know this city and am able to navigate it without getting lost. This is the thing that surprised me the most about my time here and it has made me feel like Dublin is truly my home. If there’s one thing I know for certain as I reflect on my semester with Champlain Abroad Dublin, it’s that I definitely want to return to Dublin someday and that this city will forever have a place in my heart.
Champlain Abroad Dublin, Fall 2015
Champlain College- Professional Writing ’17
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