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A Study-Abroad Reflection

Now that I’ve officially been back in the States for 2 weeks, I’ve run into many people who ask the same question over and over: How was Ireland??? For the first few people I ran into at the grocery store, I tried to sum up my experience the best and quickest way I could without losing their attention. However, I soon learned that no explanation could suffice. Although I can genuinely tell these people that I had a great time and enjoyed my experience, I will never be able to sufficiently explain everything that affected me in Ireland because no one will be able to understand but me. Although kissing the Blarney Stone, visiting the Belfast peace wall and traveling all over Europe played a very big role in my experience, I believe it is more the little things I encountered day to day that will stick with me the longest and will continue to shape how I act and view the world.

It is hard to write this post without sounding trite and cliché because I know that many students come home and gush about how studying abroad changed their lives and opened their eyes; however, I can’t help but agree with them. I am definitely a different person than I was before I studied abroad. I really do view the world and our American culture much differently and have a changed perspective; however, I also think its highly important to not over-romanticize the study abroad experience. Although, like I said, it is life-changing, eye-opening, and incredibly enriching, it also isn’t as simple and painless as many people make it out to be (at least for me) and it’s important to remember that part too. There definitely were days where I was worn-out or sick and woke up feeling too tired to be a study abroad student that day. I wanted to go to an American pharmacy and get a familiar medication or I wanted a simple filter coffee to give me a boost of caffeine. However, it was those homesick days that really strengthened me the most and made me the stronger, more independent person I now am. I enjoyed every second of the great days, soaked in the good days, persisted through the bad days, and reaped the benefits of all of them. I look back at my experience with such gratitude and appreciation and understand that no one but me will be able to truly understand everything I encountered and learned.

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