Home Sweet Home
Well, I’ve been back in the good ol’ USA for about two weeks now and even though I do miss Dublin, it really is good to be home. A little weird though, too. Sometimes it feels like this past semester was a dream or something. Like everything I did happened to someone else and then told me all of their stories. Either way, dream or reality, my time in Dublin was an experience of a lifetime. It has left me with some incredible memories and some great friends and I hope that I’ll be able to go back as soon as possible. Of course, I am going to have to work to replenish my bank account if I want to do any world travelling any time soon. Or national travelling. Or local trips for that matter.
Being home has been really great. Somehow, I managed to avoid a serious case of jet lag. It could have something to do with the fact that I didn’t sleep a wink on either of my flights and then when I landed in a time zone five hours ahead of what I’d been used to, I did not go to bed at a semi-reasonable hour and instead stayed up for a full 24 hours straight. On the bright side, I got myself on a normal sleep schedule right away and woke up at a decent hour the next morning. On the other hand, I was exhausted for the rest of the week. Small price to pay at the end of an amazing four months I suppose!
It honestly hasn’t been too much of an adjustment getting used to being back in America. I haven’t experienced the culture shock that study abroad students sometimes say they come across upon returning to their home country. In fact, I don’t think that I ever experienced culture shock or homesickness to begin with. Perhaps because I was in a country that spoke English and the culture wasn’t as drastically different as it would have been in, say, China. But I think I was lucky. I was well prepared for the trip and knew that the IFSA-Butler offices were always there if I needed anything. Anyway, while I miss being able to hop on the 46a to Dun Laoghaire for a Sunday afternoon at the farmers market and the different shades of green grass viewed from the window of a Bus Eireann coach on a trip to Cork or Galway, it’s nice to be back in the driver’s seat of a car on the right side of the road. Although I do admit, I almost started driving on the left side of a deserted road one night. Fortunately I quickly came to my senses! I’ve also been able to enjoy snacking on Cheez-Its, using a dishwasher and an oven, bonding with my dog and listening to the Cincinnati Reds on the radio. There are definitely things that I missed while I was gone!
One of my favorite parts about being home is being able to share all my pictures and stories with my friends and family. If you’ve followed my blog at all, I’m sure that you can tell how much I love talking about all the amazing opportunities that I have had. I mentioned in my first post that I get my Irish blood from my grandmother who passed away last fall. I only wish that I had been able to share my experiences with her, and my other grandparents, because I know how much they would have loved to hear all of my stories. Living in Dublin for a semester has been the most amazing experience. I loved every minute of my trip and I can’t wait to get back to Ireland. If you’re a student, and you ever have the chance to study abroad—even if just for a three week summer program or a spring break trip—take it. Getting out of my comfort zone and throwing myself into a different world has been the best thing I’ve ever done. It has opened my eyes to the world and it is something that will play an important role in shaping my future. And it’s not as hard as you might think. Family and friends from home can always be contacted through Skype and email. And you can meet a lot of great new people by going through a program. Going through IFSA-Butler was definitely the right choice for me. I always felt like I had all the information I needed and the advisors were always welcoming and helpful, without being overbearing. And the Northern Ireland and Killary Adventure weekends were both fantastic trips. I also met most of my friends through the program and while parts of my trip were about independence, I always felt like I had a supportive community to turn to.
I had the time of my life in Dublin and I have loved sharing all of my experiences with anyone who has been willing to pay attention. If you’ve followed any of my journey, thanks for listening. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading my stories as much as I’ve enjoyed telling them!