About four months ago I decided to study abroad in Ireland for the spring of 2014. It struck me that in order for me to make the most improvement in my college career, it would have to be in a foreign country. Sure, I could go on taking the usual classes and take the safe route. But how much would I get out of it at the end? True, I’ve learned at least half a dozen important life lessons from college, so I don’t dismiss my previous experience. However, I’m looking for something more that I can’t achieve at home.
This is it. I’ve started my international adventure, and I can’t back out of it. So far I’ve been doing fine on my solo trip: no panicking, a full stomach and an almost relaxed feeling. I should be sleeping, but I think the excitement is keeping me awake. Back home it is 7:30 in the evening, whereas the local time in Paris, my next destination, is 4:30 am. I still have time to catch up on sleep. But before I close my eyes, I want to take a few minutes to process what I will be doing for the next few months.
Honestly, I think I am going to love Ireland. The classes I plan to take are going to challenge me, but they sound fun. I will read literature and political science texts and will have the chance to analyze European politics and see it in their perspective. What’s more, I hope to see the Irish perspective in the classroom as well. I need to prepare myself for the culture clash, I admit. I am going to be an international student among the Irish students and I realize that my American schooling has biased me. One of the challenges I predict will be to view the differences in how the two countries run things and learn how to disagree in a non-offensive way. Reading is one thing, but forming one’s own opinion and speaking up for it is quite another. By taking classes abroad, my goal is to listen and evaluate, with a focus on respect.
My time in Ireland is more than just school, however. I’m a bit of an introvert and don’t have many street smarts. I trust too easily at times. I tend to worry about things that aren’t worth the trouble in the first place. I want my weaknesses to become strengths, and maybe I can work on a bit of each at this time and place in my life. Lucky for me, Ireland seems like a perfect fit. For one, there are plenty of people I can meet there who won’t mind talking or getting to know me. Also, I won’t need to drive because the transportation is great. Traveling is my second priority next to school, and I’ll be in a country with tons of freedom. They have castles, pubs, beaches, street festivals, opera and many literary giants who originated from there. My strategy is to work hard on homework during the week and go explore on the weekends. I should also try to bring a couple of books with me to new locations and study. Immersion is important to me, and I need to fully commit myself.
Improving my photography and writing skills are part of my plan, too. Maybe if I combine the two I can write some photo essays! What I’ve noticed in my photography is that I can take nice shots of people and can sometimes capture the story of what I see behind the screen. However, I don’t think I get close enough to my subjects and I could do a better job of adjusting my camera to the scene at hand. I want to practice just taking shot after shot of people going about their business. I want to find interesting angles and reevaluate what I actually put in my compositions. As for writing? I need to work on the Blog, read every day and experiment with form. I can’t wait to see how it all turns out.
Now I guess the only thing left to do is to make it safely to Ireland and get started. And you know what the hardest part of it is? Getting started.
Talk to you all soon. School and (life) in general have prevented me from Blogging since September. There’s no way I’m shutting this Blog down! Cheers, Jen