Greetings From Ireland: Initial reflections on studying abroad

By Cara Murray
Foreign Correspondent

Sitting here on my bed, drinking tea and eating biscuits, I could very well be in my dorm room overlooking the startling green grass of the Washington College campus; instead I find that I am in my top floor flat about 3,000 miles away in Ireland. This is probably the part about study abroad that many people fail to mention, or at least the part that I had truly failed to consider. I am living, in a foreign country, for five months.

In my head, studying abroad was going to change my entire personality and my life. I would go into the experience open-minded and a bit apprehensive and I would return a changed young adult ready to take on the world and kick everyone’s butt at rugby.

In my head I was going out every night, meeting new people, exchanging ideas, seeing wonderful places and basically having the time of my life. But then fragments of actual life started to trickle into my days, worries like classes and papers and money. I realized that not every day was going to be sun- filled and “picture perfect,” in fact it rains most of the time here and believe me I wasn’t picturing rain jackets and galoshes in my mind’s eye.

I won’t lie and say that my time here has been horrible. In fact I’ve been having great craic (that’s fun for those not quite as fluent in Irish as I am). I’ve been to a couple of cute little “stereotypically Irish towns” had more than a few great nights that started off in one pub and ended in another, and I’ve met some fantastic people, Irish and otherwise. But there have been plenty of days I have spent in my flat, lamenting that lack of Hulu in my region and the fact that all UCC students go home on the weekends. While it is true that I am in a different country and I can’t afford to make every day an epic adventure, I’m not mad about it.

In my mind, that is something different and something a little special about studying abroad. I’m not a tourist in Ireland, I’m a temporary citizen. This means I’m figuring out where the cheapest place is to buy my eggs rather than finding the closest restaurant.

I’m getting to enjoy the view of the sun coming up over the River Lee when I get out of my 9 a.m. class. I get to grumble about the weather but then truly enjoy the sunny days that come after a week of rainy ones. I have a home team to root for during sporting events and I know why I shouldn’t walk over the crest in the Aula Maxima. I get to go to club meetings where I may have started off as a stranger but I am starting to feel like a friend.

Yes, studying abroad is very different. There are times like right now when I wonder why I came, to this place so like home, not different enough to be exotic. But then there will be times, out on the cliffs overlooking the sea where my breath will be taken away, and I’ll wonder why I ever doubted myself. At least that is what I hope will happen, but for now I have to focus.

With a lab report due next Thursday and internship applications to finish I just might have enough time tonight to come up with a costume for the superhero party I am going to tomorrow. It may not be everything I thought it would, but my time abroad is turning out to be something else, and for now I’m just enjoying the ride.

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