In just over a month I will be on the plane to my new home in Galway, Ireland and, while I find this incredibly exciting, I have to admit I have no idea what to expect. Sure, I have watched the orientation videos, attended study abroad training sessions and even met several times with a friend was also an international student in Galway, but somehow it seems like there is not enough preparation in the world to make me feel like I know exactly what will happen.
What I do know is that I will be living in an apartment in the center of downtown Galway with three random roommates, and that I will attend the National University of Ireland-Galway – the only bilingual university in the country. I am excited to take classes about the political structure of Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, as well as a humanities class about the culture and history of Ireland. I plan on taking a couple of trips to nearby countries such as England or Scotland, but mostly I am eager to explore my host nation. I plan on joining student organizations where I can see the various landscapes and destinations of Ireland like Dublin, the Aran Islands and the Cliffs of Moher. I also plan to join the student newspaper so I can gain new experience as a journalist.
Other than these basic details, I am trying not to make too many assumptions about what my spring semester will be like because there is just no way to know. But that is what makes studying abroad so exciting. I will have to adapt to whatever happens while I am in Ireland, and hopefully this will help me grow as a person. I expect to live in a country that is very different than my home, but I also expect to find things in common with the Irish people that I meet. While abroad I expect my eyes to be opened, my beliefs to be questioned and my assumptions to be challenged. I am excited to engage with a new culture, gain experience as an international journalist and share what I have learned with everyone back home.