Did It All Really Happen?Dublin, Spring 2011

Last week following my trip to Rome, I took a few days to visit Galway and the Aran Islands.  Unfortunately, the program came to an end on Saturday, May 28th.  Last Thursday and Friday felt really bizarre as I packed up my clothes and cleaned the house.  I couldn’t sleep on Friday night knowing that I would never again sleep in my bed, never again make dinner in our apartment, and probably never again see the friends I made over the course of the semester.  I was excited to go home, but I was sad about what I was about to lose.  The flight home felt really weird.  When we started the descent into Ireland way back in January, I was faced with a stomach full of butterflies.  Unexpectedly, the descent into the US brought the same butterflies back to my stomach.  I certainly did not expect to be nervous about coming home. Now that I have been home for almost a week, the entire semester seems so surreal.  Did I really just spend five months living in another country?  Did I really board a plane in January all alone?  Even though I have only been home for a week, the semester seems so long ago.  I am having a hard time finding adequate answers to “How was your semester?  How was studying abroad?”  Where do I even start?  Which memories will stay with me and which ones will slowly erode over time?  What are the most important aspects to share with others?  What are the best pieces of knowledge to provide you?  As I write this, I still do not know what exactly would help people decide which program or location to pick. Has it been strange being home?  I haven’t experienced reverse culture shock yet; I am still in the “honeymoon” phase of being home.  I can say, though, that being home is slowly becoming boring.  I felt like I was always doing something when I was in Dublin, especially the last week of the program (Rome to Galway to lots of last minute sightseeing in Dublin).  Having nothing to do is slowly getting to me.  At least next week I start my internship at the International Center for the Study of Terrorism. Some words of advice about your host city.  Don’t wait until the last minute to see everything your host city has to offer.  Don’t take your host city for granted.  Don’t always follow the same path home and visit the same places; don’t develop tunnel vision!  Even though I thought I did a good job of seeing different parts of Dublin, I found the last few days packed full of last minute things to see and do.  Also, if academically and financially possible, don’t study abroad for a summer session.  Six weeks is an extended vacation; it is not enough time to immerse yourself in your surroundings.  While five months may seem like a very long time, it was well worth it.
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