I studied abroad through an exchange with University College Dublin just outside Dublin, Ireland in the Fall of 2013. I stayed in the campus housing with four Irish and one German. The accent was my favorite thing, and I’d stay up with my roommates for hours comparing pronunciation, spelling, and different words for things. The Gaelic language is about the most confusing language to learn or speak, but barely anyone regularly uses it anymore—despite it being on every road sign. It was strange seeing how a culture I thought was so close to American could be so subtly different.
I joined many societies (clubs) on campus, my favorite being the Erasmus Student Network and the International Students Society. Through these I was able to travel and mingle with other study abroad students from across the globe. The society trips were throughout Ireland and included Galway, Cork, and many more cities. After going on a few of these trips, I became close friends with a couple students and we began planning trips out of the country to places like Scotland, England, France, and many more! I would definitely say traveling and meeting new friends was my main goal of study abroad—and I went above and beyond my wildest expectations!
My favorite thing to do was get lost. As strange as it seems, getting lost often caused me to stumble across beautiful and interesting things I’d never have planned to visit from a travel brochure. Also, the Irish know how to have a good time, so I spent many nights hanging out in pubs and clubs. The one thing that surprised me the most through all my traveling was the not-so-scary hostel environments. I LOVED staying in hostels to mingle with the fellow travelers and swap stories.
The numerous photos and experiences I’ve come home with do not come close to comparing to the lifelong friendships I formed while away. A group of my study abroad friends and I have already made reunion plans to meet in Vegas this summer. I never thought in my wildest dreams I would make it out of the US; and now that I’ve been, I want to keep traveling forever.
Don’t be shy, go out and meet people! Once I finally got out of my comfort zone and started to meet people, I had a ton of once in a lifetime experiences with newfound friends! Also, look both ways before crossing the road—especially when you can’t remember which way traffic is moving in that country!