Study Abroad Experience
Studying abroad has become a hallmark of the modern college experience, and since I started college, it was something that I felt like I had to do. Since high school, studying abroad, specifically in Ireland, had been something that I saw as a distant goal, but as the realization set in that I would actually be leaving, I became anxious and unsure if this was the dream that I had previously envisioned for myself. Although I had heard testimonials of the amazing experiences that many of my friends and peers had experienced during their semesters outside the United States, I dreaded the thought of leaving my family, friends, and the familiarity of Massachusetts, where I had lived and attended school for my entire life. As my junior year approached, the planning, applying, uncertainty, and anticipation ensued as each day brought me closer to my departure. After several pamphlets and phone calls, I made the decision to attend Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland, through the Institute of Study Abroad (IFSA). This program and destination allowed me to continue with my biology major as I was able to take STEM classes that counted towards my degree at Assumption. After solidifying this decision and booking my one-way flight, I thought I would feel more secure in my decision. However, with each passing day, I was burdened with another worry about leaving the United States. Would I be safe? How would I make friends? Do I even have enough money to do this? What if I hate it?
On January 9th, 2019, I apprehensively left my house, said my goodbyes to my family and friends, and boarded a red-eye flight to Dublin. As the plane accelerated off the ground, I was immediately struck by the realization that I was this was actually happening. The days following my arrival were a blur of jet lag, introductions to my roommates and the other people in my program and navigating the city. Despite my initial apprehension and anxiety about leaving
home, with each passing day in Ireland, I began to gain more confidence in my ability to make friends, find my way around, and do well in my classes at a larger university. I was lucky to have a wonderful group of roommates that I immediately connected with, and the other students in my program were equally awesome. Before I knew it, I was booking trips with my new friends and making plans to travel around Europe. Dublin quickly became my home and I fell in love with the quaint and historic setting mixed with a bustling European metropolis. Even after visiting the incredible cities of Amsterdam, Prague, Vienna, Budapest, and London, arriving back in Dublin felt like home. The days turned to months, and suddenly I was booking my flight back to Boston. I distinctly remember seeing the Cliffs of Moher from the tiny window of my plane and feeling a heavy sadness about leaving my new home.
After reflecting on my four months in Ireland (and beyond), living in a different country really did change my life. I developed a newfound confidence and independence that I had never been challenged to reach for, and the memories of the experiences I had and the people that I met during my time in Ireland will truly stay with me forever. I never did expect to have such an amazing experience, and everyday I miss hearing the music drifting out of the pubs as a I walk down the street, the excitement of living in a city, the constant access to parks and shops, and of course, the breathtaking scenery of the countryside. Most importantly, my experience studying abroad showed me that I won’t be fully confident in every decision that I make, and it is natural to have doubts. However, worry and uncertainty doesn’t mean that an amazing experience won’t unfold.