By UL International Student Ambassador Joni Leffelaer
Studying abroad is one of the best experiences I’ve had in my life so far. And now that I only have 28 days left in this beautiful country, I started asking myself why. What did this country, this experience do to me? Well, let’s just say that I made a lot of discoveries here. And as future (or present) UL students, I felt like I should share my discoveries with you guys. So let’s jump in to my 4 life lessons learned while studying abroad in Ireland.
1. We’re all secretly social butterflies
Truth be told, your first day in Ireland might be pretty lonely. It’s all very overwhelming at first and all the people surrounding you are all complete strangers that for some reasons already seem to know each other. I would say no need to panic, but I did, so I would be a hypocrite if I said you shouldn’t. The thing is though, fairly soon you’ll find something happening to you. After a while just walking up to random people and starting a conversation with them won’t be as scary as it used to be. You’ll make friends from all over the world before you even know it. Believe me, you’ll social calendar will be flooded in no time.
2. There are so many amazing people to meet
When I left for Ireland I never imagined meeting as many cool and interesting people as I have. I’ve made great friends here, friends that mean the world to me now and probably still will when I go home. I’ve been through some of my best times with them, but also some of my worst. And when you go abroad, these are the people you’ll have to rely on to get you through those tougher moments. But if you’re as lucky as I was (and I don’t doubt you will be) you’ll find some amazing evenly crazy people that get you through even the worst of days.
3. You’re a lot stronger than you think you are
Before I came to Ireland, the longest I had ever been away from home was 14 days. So when I applied for Erasmus I was pretty much convinced that I would come home after a month and give myself a pat on the back for trying. Obviously, I didn’t. The first day was probably the most difficult, again because it was so overwhelming. But after that there wasn’t a moment where I doubted whether I had made the right decision. Now that I’ve been here for over three months I would never again doubt going. So let that be my advice to you all, don’t let the “4 months” scare you. It’ll be over before you even realise.
4. Leaving will make you appreciate what you have so much more
There is a reason why “you don’t know what you’ve got ‘till it’s gone” is such a cliché, it’s because it is very, very true. Ever since I left, I felt so much more in touch with everyone and everything back home. A change of environment makes you realize what you already have, and how much it actually means to you. When I left for Ireland, part of me did it to escape that boring little world I was living in. And although I am completely and utterly in love with Ireland, I also can’t wait to go back to that boring little world of mine.