Well, after 5 months and 8 countries, I am back on US soil. It took two planes and 12 hours in the air, but I am finally home. I keep finding myself pointing out every single difference to friends and family as I acclimate, and luckily they haven’t become bored of my random exclamations yet. Some of the more common ones are ‘I hate dollar bills, why don’t we have coins’ ‘Everything is so cheap here’ ‘I keep looking the wrong direction while crossing the street and almost getting hit’. I already miss Ryanair’s 15 euro flights to Scotland, and the walkability of Cork City. I live in LA, which is pretty different from Cork. I find myself melting in the heat, confused about the fact I have to drive everywhere, and sad that I can no longer chill in the city centre and then be home after only a 30 minute walk.
Cork was an experience that I will cherish for the rest of my life, and I hope I can go back someday. Ireland is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been, even with its rain. Studying abroad allowed me to pause for a moment and discover myself without all the societal pressures of America (although Ireland has their own unique ones). I learned how to be an outsider, a completely new experience for me. I have a newfound appreciation for being able to drive to the store instead of walk 30 minutes, but I will miss how healthy those walks made me. The European education system was terrifying, but I learned to navigate it. It may be a cliche, but Ireland honestly made me more independent, and I’m so glad IFSA-Butler allowed me this opportunity.