Studying abroad twice? Amber Patton is living the dream while pursuing a Master’s in Creative Writing at the University of Limerick, and in this blog she shares why she chose to return to Ireland and how this country became her muse…
I have been back in Ireland for 17 weeks and it feels like I never left. I’ve fallen right back into the same reunite of life in Limerick City. The bustle of the town, and the traditional music at nightfall was something I missed most when I returned to America after studying abroad. I feel so lucky to have this experience again. To once again live in my host city for another year and continue a lifestyle that I missed so dearly.
I first studied abroad at the University of Limerick back in 2012, as a junior English major. I lived with five other students from France, Ireland and New Zealand. In between Irish literature courses and traditional music lessons, I joined the UL archery club and met the team that would become my international family. It didn’t take more than a few months for Ireland’s culture, way of life and landscape to steal my heart away. The freedom to travel anywhere in Ireland for the price of a bus ticket was thrilling, and I loved how easy it was to travel the rest of Europe. 100 euros and I could be in France. 20 euros and I could be in Edinburgh. I can honestly say, choosing to study abroad in Ireland change my life for the better.
Nowadays, I get asked by almost everyone I meet, why I decided to return to Ireland to pursue mymasters in creative writing. At first, I found it hard to put into words my feelings and desires to return to this beautiful country. But, being back now, and once again living by the Shannon River and traveling around the countryside, it’s become clear to me why I wanted to come back so badly.
Being in Ireland the first time motivated me to follow my passion for writing. I wrote almost every single day, and started new projects like a historical fiction novel and even a memoir. Everywhere I looked I found things that inspired me. Every castle, every low-ceiling pub and the culture dynamic spurred the writer within me to consider a career as an author. Ireland is rich with history, literature and folklore and being here had a huge impact on my writing. Ireland became my muse.
My other reason for returning rests with the friends I made while studying in UL. I met some of the most amazing, interesting, charismatic, funny and lovely people while I was abroad. And I don’t mean just the Irish. The amount of students you meet from around the world is incredible and it exposes you to different cultures and lifestyles. The friends I made while I was here, will be my friends for life.
This Christmas past I was reminded that many international students will be returning home soon. As someone who once had to say goodbye to Ireland herself, let me share some words of comfort. You CAN come back! If you dream of living and working in Europe don’t let money, family or anything stop you from following that dream. It won’t be easy, and it won’t be cheap, but know that it is possible. I never thought in a million years I would be back in Limerick, but it happened, and I thank every day that I have the opportunity to share my life between two countries I consider home