It's probably an understatement- and an overstated one in my posts, at that- that I really like it in Ireland. There is so much to like and it's an environment that has a lot that personally interests and excites me; the things I'm learning, the people I've met, the music, the culture, the history, the land. However, it hasn't been easy. It was a lot of work to get here in the first place, and when I got here, there was a lot I had to adjust to, but in a way I think that's probably better, and it has definitely helped me grow.
One of the hardest things for me was being on my own in a country where I knew absolutely no one. The people, both the other international students and the people from the University, as well as the locals I came into contact with, were all very nice, don't get me wrong. The thing is, I have never really been in a situation of this magnitude where I haven't had some sort of close-by support; emailing and messaging people is great, but it's incredibly comforting to have someone physically there. At home I had friends and family, and even when I went to college freshman year, my roommate was a girl I was friends with from home. So for the most part, I've tended to have someone either with a stronger personality than mine who wasn't afraid to take the lead in new ventures, or at least someone who I knew would support me if I took that position.
Here, though, I had neither of those and had to fend for myself. If I wanted to go talk to someone, I had to make that step. If I wanted to go somewhere or do something, I had to do it, without someone to lead on and without someone as my backup. Not that I didn't make friends- I have several, and they have been such a blessing- but while we all do things together, we are all still having our own personal experiences. I also have to hold myself completely accountable for my schedules, what I eat, when I do my schoolwork, the money I spend, etc. and I don't even have a roommate to tell me to turn the lights off and go to bed at a respectable hour.
It's been a little scary since I've always considered myself a pretty shy person, but I cannot express how gratifying it is to know you've personally reached for something you've wanted and were able to reap the benefits of that. And it really has been incredible. That's how I ended up here in the first place, that's how I made the new friends I have now, that's how I found the absolutely incredible church family I wasn't sure I'd have here, how I've seen new and wonderful things, tasted things I'd never even heard of before, and had all sorts of new experiences. If going away for college is a way to learn how to be independent, than studying abroad is that tenfold.