“On the Plane…In a Daze”: Celina’s Scholarship Story

Celina Jaffe is an MA Dance Performance student at the University of Limerick who was awarded a full scholarship to study in Ireland from Go Overseas, worth $15,000, in conjunction with Education Ireland. This is her story. 

Check out this video about Celina’s scholarship, including the moment she found out she had won!

Some of us move abroad to get away, some of us to explore new places, or maybe there is only one place in the world where you can study Irish Dance, so you find yourself in Ireland. Whatever brings you abroad, what’s sure is that you will learn something about yourself. That is a fact you cannot escape.

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This is now the third time I have stepped into the global citizen experience. And I must say, it doesn’t get any less stressful with each go of it. The preparations might be easier, but the mental and physical transition upon arrival can be just as harrowing, no matter how many times it’s done. The realization of, “this is my life now” hits us all in its own time. It has been hitting me hard this week and though the climate has given me a bit of a cold and the excessive dancing, a bit of pain, I can say I have already seen how beautiful Ireland is, and I can already exist in it comfortably, as it slowly becomes my new home.

The first time I lived abroad, I was an undergrad at the Université d’Aix-Marseille in Aix-en-Provence, France. It was my first home away from Bloomington, Indiana. Throughout the year I found I was constantly reinventing myself and challenging my perceptions of American culture through dialogue and self-reflection. The main take-away experience from that year in Provence was how moldable our personalities are—I learned just how much our environment really influences our world-view and modalities of expression. For example, when I came back to the US, I had to re-acclimate to my own country as I was already expressing myself in a more quiet and reserved manner. Plenty of research has been done on cultural adjustment. It takes just a quick Google search to find university websites offering resources to help their study abroad students. There are also tips on websites such as http://www.studentsabroad.com and http://www.iie.org/. If you are an international student that will be at UL all year, I recommend a quick read-up on culture shock.

After a break from dancing due to injury, living in France as an English teacher, and an uninspiring go at grad school in California, I found myself back in my home state of Indiana. I was successfully performing, and building a solid network to advance the modern dance community in Indianapolis. Then came that familiar ache, a desire for further exploration. How does Indiana’s artistic growth fit in to the context of the global modern dance scene, not just the American one? (Which is, if you know a little about modern dance, quite pivotal on the international stage.)

“On the plane…in a daze. Not sentimental, just free. I am so ready to walk this path alone. I feel I am doing exactly what I want and need to be doing in my life right now. What an incredible privilege.”

I came to UL to find these answers, but I also came to UL because I know that living abroad has always been the fastest route to self-discovery. I have already spent the last two weeks encountering old situations in new forms, overcoming obstacles that mostly involve myself getting in my own way, and meeting some of the most inspiring dancers from all over the globe that I have the great honor of working with on an everyday basis. I think my journal entry written during my flight here best sums up my feelings about being at UL: “On the plane…in a daze. Not sentimental, just free. I am so ready to walk this path alone. I have no fear, though some anxieties. Mostly I’m exhausted from my six performances and the quick move out. I feel I am doing exactly what I want and need to be doing in my life right now. What an incredible privilege.”

Since I am on a full-ride scholarship for my MA in Dance Performance thanks to GoOverseas Inc. and Enterprise Ireland, I cannot wait to spend this year giving back to the international community here at UL.

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Here’s to a new year of discovery. I wish all of my fellow artists and international students the best in our new and exciting journey. May we not only discover all that Ireland offers, but all that we offer each other.

Celina Jaffe

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