I always knew I would study abroad in college. My older siblings had all traveled, and I could not wait for the day when I would have my chance. The city and country always changed in my mind, but my need to travel never wavered. So in the spring of my junior year (2011), I set off to Dublin, Ireland for a few months to study and explore.
I can’t remember the reason I chose Dublin. My sisters both went to London, and to be honest, I always thought I would go somewhere a bit more exotic. Certainly a place where the main language was NOT English! Somewhere with crazy, new flavors for me to try and customs to adapt to.
That being said, Dublin was the perfect choice for me at that time in my life. The first two years of my college experience had been difficult, and I needed a change. I found it hard to make new friends that not only supported me, but also inspired me to be a better version of myself. For someone who had always been strong, independent and comfortable in their own skin, I often found myself trying to fold into other people’s expectations of who I should be in those first few years. I had become a version of myself that I wasn’t particularly happy with.
In January of 2011, I boarded a plane by myself for the first time, and set off as a student of the Dublin IES Abroad program. I didn’t sleep the entire flight because I was so excited for what was to come. Upon arrival I was immediately ushered into a taxi by one of the program directors with one of my new roommates. The older gentleman in the driver seat spoke the entire time, showing us big landmarks as we wound our way through the city. I still remember the rush I felt as we drove down the smaller streets, past adorable looking shops and cafes until we finally stopped in front of a row of flats right next to a canal in Rathmines.
That first week was filled with wandering around the city and getting to know my new roommates and classmates over pints of Guinness and Buhlmer’s at the nearby pub. On our first day of orientation, we stumbled across The Bernard Shaw (which would later become our regular lunch spot) for a cup of coffee from the loveliest man singing opera as we walked in. Thank goodness too, for this place has the greatest paninis I’ve ever had.
Ireland was more than I could have dreamed. It was my first international travel experience, and it’s the reason I chose to move abroad after college. Surrounded by the beauty of its landscapes and seasides, and comforted by the more laid back attitude of countryside jaunts on the weekend, Ireland, and the people I met while living there, helped me pull myself together again and lift myself out of the rut I was living in.
At some point I will do a post about some of places to visit and things to experience in Ireland, but for now I thought I’d just share this story. I hope to go back some day with my husband to show him around all of my favorite places. It’s been much too long, and I cannot wait until then.
*A few years ago my computer crashed, and I lost all of my photos from Ireland :(. The photos you see above are not mine. They were taken by friends I met while I was there.