Just a couple things I’ve discovered since going abroad.

1.) They don’t tell you that you’re going to be lonely. You’re going to be lonely a lot. Even though I got to come to Ireland with one of my best friends by my side, I still felt lonely regularly. I reached out to so many friends at home, concerned that I had made the wrong choice in coming here because I thought I wouldn’t make any friends. “It takes time” they said, and I thought they were all wrong. After a few days with my roommates, I realized that they were right. The friends will come, but it takes time.

2.) Your new school abroad is not going to be like your school at home. I know, I know, that seems like a given, but I didn’t realize that until I got here. Drake has a mere 3,400 students wandering around campus. UCD has 27,000. That. Is. A LOT. I have no idea where I’m going most of the time, but thank God the Irish are friendly enough to point me in the right direction.

3.) Beer is expensive. Especially when euros are worth more than USD.

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4.) Just because the beer is expensive, doesn’t mean it isn’t worth buying. I mean, come on guys. We are in Ireland after all…

5.) That being said, it’s okay to not go out every night. I was worried, initially, because I thought if I wasn’t going out, I was going to be missing out. I realized after a couple nights in with my roommates that the best connections are formed over hastily made quesadillas and shared stories about life, about love, and about everything in between. It is 100% okay to not be going out, ESPECIALLY if you don’t want to be going out. Contrary to popular belief, studying abroad isn’t all about partying. There’s a lot to be learned that can’t be learned explicitly in the pubs.

6.) You have to go to class. Seriously. Just be an adult and do it.

7.) IKEA is a god send, be that in America, in Ireland, or anywhere else in the world that you need to furnish an apartment.

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8.) You are going to be missing things at home. Not missing in the longing for them kind of way (even though you’ll do that too), but physically missing them. Leaving for Ireland, I hadn’t really thought about the fact that life was going to be continuing on without me in the states. Now that I’m here, and I glance at Facebook, I realize how wrong I was. I’m missing the first days of school, recruitment, events at my job, birthdays, weddings, etc. You aren’t going to be around for things. While that is okay, it’s still hard, and kind of sad.

9.) Even though this doesn’t apply to everywhere people go to study abroad, Ireland isn’t always rainy! Praise the Lamb!

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10.) You’re going to want to go back to normalcy. You are going to want to go back to being comfortable. To having cars drive on the “right” side of the road. To USD. To public transit that tells you what bus stop you’re at. To American accents. To Chipotle. But while you are going to want all of this, you have to remember to take comfort in this fact: It’s still going to be there in four months. When this semester is said and done, when the adventures are over and the exams are turned in, America, in all it’s glory, is still going to be there. And as you sit on the plane that is taking you back to what you once called “normal”, you are going to be longing for chippers. For asking for a pint. For the dart. For the madness that is the city centre. For hearing things such as press, and craic, and feck in everyday conversations. You are going to want to go back. So live in the moment. Be thankful for the days you have been given, and remember that this too, will end before you know it.

Alexis Nowling
IFSA Dublin, Ireland

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