After almost 2 full months here I find myself becoming sad to leave this wonderful place I have grown to call home. When I look back to my first month here and my initial feeling of being overwhelmed confused and homesick, I now feel that living in Ireland has become my normal life. I know the best places to get the best breakfast or where to find the cheapest meal and feel at ease of everything in Galway. And while life here has become somewhat of the norm there are still things that are so different from back home, especially the classes. First of all the classes are very different then Saint A's. Not only are all my classes in huge lecture halls, but all my assignments and exams are at the end of the semester, and with the semester already halfway over I am now swamped with deadlines and exam dates looming overhead. I have found myself missing the structure of Saint A's classes and the small initiate class setting. I have also found myself at a lost of what professors are looking for in classes and miss knowing exactly what is expected of me like at Saint A's.
Yet one of the biggest challenges I have found is trying to balance schoolwork on top of traveling and trying to explore Galway. I always found myself getting frustrated when I had to be in the library doing homework or staying in to study for an exam, when all I wanted to be doing was exploring Galway and hanging out with my friends. But since everything is due at the end of the semester staying on top of your work helps you to not get stressed when the the deadlines finally come, and it is so worth it even if it means having to miss out on a few things here and there. Although doing schoolwork in another country can be stressful, asking professors for help is key, for they are often very helpful and understanding!
After being in Ireland for 2 months I have been so fortunate to have gotten to travel so many amazing places. I have been to Belfast in Northern Ireland, Edinburgh Scotland and London, and each place had something different to offer that I loved for slightly different reasons. The Giant's Causeway in Northern Ireland was one of the most unique and spectacular places I have been and London there was so much to see from going to shows to exploring each neighborhood. But my favorite country I have been to so far was Scotland. Every building in Edinburgh was old and medieval and the city was filled with so much history and unique things like ghosts stories and was even JK Rowling's inspiration for Harry Potter! It was such an amazing city and the reason I went here was because it was one of my excursions through API and if it haven't been apart of my program I might not have gone. Considering Edinburgh was my favorite city, I would have been so sad if I hadn't gone there so my best advice is go the places you might not have considered. Of course everyone wants to go to Paris and see the Eiffel Tower or Big Ben, but also try to pick less known places and visit them to because they could end up being your favorite place! However some of my favorite places were in Ireland, such as the Ring of Kerry in Killarny and even some of the smaller places I visited in Ireland that were too beautiful for words. It is easy once you are in Europe to want to travel everywhere and see all the famous landmarks, but don't forget to explore your own country too! Even if it is as simple as exploring places around your city or visiting places close by, you want to be able to come back and tell everyone about all the amazing places in the city and country you studied in because it will soon become your home away from home!
Budgeting can also be hard when you are abroad especially at the beginning because everyone wants to explore and go out to eat and try all the local foods. However I have found that if you budget during the week then you will have money to spend for the weekend on any trips you go on, which is so worth it! I normally spend about 200 or more a week depending on if I am going somewhere expensive and so far it has worked out great. When you go new places you want to try new foods or buy a memory to bring back with you so sometimes not spending that little extra during the week is definitely worth it. Trying to budget isn't always easy abroad but if you plan trips and think of how much you want to set aside ahead of time it will save you so much stress. When you do go new places, make sure you try to see what they have to offer for tourists whether it be a bus or museum pass to help save you money. Most places have free walking tours which are also nice because they are a great way to help you see the city you are in. Don't be afraid to ask people in tourist offices what they have to offer or research what other people say are the best things to do in the city you are going, not only will it save you time but money as well, which is ever study abroad student's goal!
While traveling to new places all the time is exciting and fun, not everyday abroad is going to be something extraordinary. You still have to go to class and do homework and some days are just pretty ordinary. At first this would frustrate me and I would feel like I was wasting my time, but I soon realized that studying abroad while extravagant as it is; it still is your everyday life which a lot of the time is just a normal day. But I discovered you can still make each day exciting by doing your work in a cafe, trying a nice place downtown for tea or just taking a walk after school. Whatever you may be doing when abroad, it's amazing you get to be studying in a different country at all so live it up everyday, and even the days that feel ordinary can feel extraordinary.