As I sit here at the London-Heathrow airport heading home, I can’t help but reflect on this amazing semester. I still feels like a dream. I mean how often do people get to just pick everything up and move to Europe for four months?! That doesn’t happen very often, but wow am I fortunate that I was able to do that.
Last year when I went to Rome during the month of January, the end of the month came and I was more than ready to go home. I thought there was never any way that I would be able to do an entire semester, that was just too long. Last September came around and something came across me and I decided that I wanted to go abroad for an entire semester (AKA sometimes last minute decisions are the best!). Little did I know that this decision would be one of the greatest things I’ve done thus far in my life, where I would make friends that will last a lifetime, and memories that I’ll remember forever.
Going to Ireland this semester still feels like a dream. Going into the semester, I thought that it was going to be so long and that I was going to be so homesick the entire time, but lucky for me that wasn’t the case at all.
I remember before I was leaving that everyone would ask me if I knew anyone going, and when I told them I didn’t, they thought I was crazy. But that was actually one of the best parts of the trip. I went into this trip only knowing about people through their Facebook profiles, and I leave today just over four months later with 40 strangers that turned into friends that turned into family. It’s honestly so crazy how close people can get in such a short period of time. The worst part about getting so close to everyone was the last 24 hours where we had to say goodbye, everyone was a wreck: at the bar, on the lawn, at 3:00 AM, the entire time. But in reality, I know that God put all of these amazing people into my life for a reason. If he didn’t want our paths to cross later in life, he wouldn’t have had us become so close and then never let us see each other again. I can’t wait to see how God has our paths cross later in life. ☺
This semester has not only brought me so many new friends, I have also created memories that will be stories I tell to my grandchildren one day! This semester, I was able to go to 12 different countries and two continents!! In addition to all of that, I was also able to visit many different places within Ireland as well. I’m going to do my best to remember all of it, but there are somethings that definitely stick out more than others. For example, riding a camel in Morocco, spray painting the John Lennon wall, caving in Budapest, and going to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris. It still blows my mind that I was able to do so much in such a short amount of time.
This semester has also been full of growth for me as well. I have grown so much in who I am and I can see it in all aspects of my life. This semester has really taught me to be confident in myself and my abilities. Before this semester, I would always second guess who I was and all that I am capable of. Now, of course that still happens sometimes, but not nearly as much. I think this change is due to many factors, one of which was going abroad not knowing anyone. Although I am a super outgoing person, I had to step out of my comfort zone and really put myself out there to meet these people and make this semester what I wanted it to be or else I would end up hating it. Some of the people that I met this semester really helped to push my out of my comfort zone as well because they knew I could do it, I just didn’t believe in myself. I think going abroad, meeting new people and all of the traveling you get to do is amazing. And although some of the experiences were life changing, it is the little things that pushed me to become a better person and break out of my shell that will really make the difference in my life.
It still feels so unreal not only that I studied abroad this semester in one of the most beautiful countries in the world, but that it is already over. I will remember this trip and these people forever. I can’t wait to have a little reunion in a few years down the road. Or when I go back to Ireland one day, I know that I’ll be able to see my Irish friends again. Crazy how life works out that way.
A super special thank you goes out to my parents for always allowing me to adventure (no matter how much my mom doesn’t want me to ) and for giving me the chance of a lifetime of going on this trip. Also, thank you to my friends from home who were there for me and answering my texts and FaceTime calls throughout this semester, no matter what time of day it was. Lastly, thank you to all those that I met and encountered this semester; thank you for making this semester absolutely incredible. I love you guys so much and it’s not a goodbye, it’s just a see you later.