To my friends I met on the other side of the pond:
I have told you all how wonderful you are, but I don’t know if I have been able to fully express how impactful and necessary this semester was for me.
This semester was a milestone in my life. It has changed my outlook on life and allowed me to figure out more of who I am as a person. Yes, I took classes (even though I didn’t really talk about them on my blog), but the most valuable learning happened through immersing myself in the Irish lifestyle and putting myself out of my comfort zone. I’ve talked about this a lot, but it was the friendships that made this semester a success.
The Irish live a slower and most relaxed life, which I very much adapted to and loved. Here in the States, there are much higher expectations when it comes to school and being “perfect,” providing a vast amount of stress on life. On top of that, I’ve always kept myself very busy, living a fast-paced life, requiring me to plan out every detail way in advance so I don’t double or triple book myself and can fit everything into my schedule. I think I will always be a planner, but my Irish friends were a great reminder that you don’t always have to plan every detail. Sometimes just figuring things out as they come to you is better; last minute planning is okay sometimes. This has helped me to become more relaxed and less anxious in situations where I don’t have everything planned out way in advance.
I have been able to expand my comfort zone quite a bit over the past four months. At the beginning of the semester, I would worry about flying (well, airport security mainly) for weeks or months prior to my trip. Now, I feel no anxiety when going through airports. Before coming to Ireland, depending on the circumstance, I would be comfortable talking to strangers when I needed directions or had a question. Now, after traveling to foreign countries where I know nothing and don’t always speak the same language, I’ve become very comfortable talking to strangers (it really helped the Irish are so friendly and willing to help) and working with the language barrier. Also, being such a “people-person,” I was nervous traveling on my own. But now, I have come to realize that traveling on your own lets you do whatever you want, whenever you want, making it whatever trip you want it to be!
If you know me at all, you realize I have a passion for the outdoors and love to climb on rocks. But, it wasn’t always like that. When I first started getting into the outdoors my freshman year of high school, I was petrified of heights, meaning 5 or 6 feet off the ground I would freeze and panic. I slowly got over that. By my senior year, I did my first lead climb. Since then I have been slowly increasing my confidence with leading, pushing myself to lead harder climbs. But, it wasn’t until this last semester that my friends were able to convince me to really push my lead climbing grade. I was able to climb harder than I ever have because of their support and took my first unexpected lead fall! You might not realize how big of deal this is, but it’s a huge accomplishment for me! Yes, I want to give myself some credit for being able to push through my fears, but my Irish friends and the trust I have built in them is the main reason I accomplished these goals.
Thank you to everyone who has supported me this semester in these endeavors. All of you will always be an important part of my life and played a huge roll in who I am today.
A girl who is now way more confident and less timid because of her time abroad
Here are a few highlight pictures of my semester:
So you may be wondering what’s next. Well, this summer is just adjusting back to life in the States, hiking, and hanging out with friends. In August, I head back to school for my last year leading a Voyage (outdoor trip for freshmen before orientation), and then begin my final year of college (That means I have to figure out my life soon…). As for this blog, I hope to keep updating it, but it might not be as often (unless you want to hear about every step in completing my capstone project–and today I typed more code which broke again…today I tried to fix my broken code and in the process broke a different part of my code–I mean, I can write about my constant battle with coding if you’d like. I can code things, but I’m really good at breaking code too). My goal is to migrate this blog to my personal website eventually (which needs to still be built…). So, keep an eye on the blog because I intend to keep it live, but there might be a lull for the summer; we shall see!