A year ago today, I left to study abroad in Ireland. I was excited then to make new memories in a different country and to really explore a different culture. I remember looking out my airplane window and seeing the coast of the Emerald Isle before arriving at the Dublin airport feeling insane for traveling across the world by myself.
I remember looking out the cab window and thinking of all the memories I would soon be making in this country. I remembered thinking of all the new people I would meet. I wondered if locals would be friendly and welcoming, I wondered how school, professors, and classmates would be. It was 8am, my body was already jet lagged but my mind was racing out of control.
I remember getting off that cab, tipping the driver for helping with my heavy luggage, and arriving at the house where I would stay for the first couple of nights before moving into my apartment. I walked into a house filled with people who had moved from Brazil, and who didn’t speak much English. They welcomed someone who didn’t speak a pinch of Portuguese, so you can imagine how that went. If being across the world wasn’t enough of a culture shock, imagine being in a space where I couldn’t communicate clearly with others. If it hadn’t been on the first day of my 3-month stay in Ireland, I would have otherwise not felt so isolated. But on that day, I instantly started to feel sad, homesick, and lonely. The excitement washed away. As soon as my head hit the pillow, I cried. I instantly missed my family, and everything back home. I wanted to get on the next plane back to LAX.
I had only been in Dublin for a couple hours, and I was already feeling homesick. In other words, I was being dramatic. “Is this how it would be for the next three months or does it get easier?” I thought. So I decided to take a nap because well, naps fix everything. My roommate and soon to be great friend who had also recently moved to Ireland from Brazil woke me up so he could show me around the city. We went out into the cold crisp air, and that excitement came back. I felt I would be okay (I mean, of course I would, I was just being a drama queen). The streets of Dublin sparkled. The buildings were nothing like I had seen back home, and everything was bustling with life. I WAS READY TO TAKE ON IRELAND AGAIN!
But before I could do that, I needed Wi-Fi.
The three months I spent living and studying in Dublin were a learning experience. Like a normal human being, I felt homesick on occasions but I didn’t let it get the best of me or ruin my days because my family was just a phone call or FaceTime call away. Being out of my comfort zone in a different country with a different culture and way of life was necessary. I learned a lot about myself and others around me by living on my own and with roommates from different backgrounds. As I reflect on my time in Ireland, there’s nothing much I would have done differently except maybe drink more pints of Guinness. I can’t wait until I get the opportunity to visit many times more, and re-experience those months with a different perspective.
And as I reminisce on the time I spent in Ireland, I can’t help but feel so incredibly lucky to have been able to live in a different country, if only temporarily. It was a humbling experience that I’ll never take for granted.
In the words of Charles Dickens, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness…”