As this academic year comes to an end, we can look back on a time that was truly unprecedented and like nothing that we had known before. Find out more about how the past semester went for Student Ambassador Robin Luger, and see how they experienced Ireland despite COVID restrictions.
Now that my Erasmus experience, which differed from a semester abroad in non-pandemic times, is over, I can share some thoughts whether it was worth going or not. Originally, I was supposed to spend the autumn semester in Limerick, but it was cancelled and this spring semester was now the last chance to go abroad during my undergrad studies. Before coming here, some friends asked why I would even come here if “all the pubs are closed anyways”. For sure, it was an unusual semester here; of course, I would have wanted things to be a bit different. However, I do not regret coming to Ireland, even during a pandemic. It may have not been the optimal stay, but I tried to make the most out of it, and it truly has been such an enriching experience.
First, there is the things you would expect from a semester abroad: the university experience and living away from home for a longer period of time. Although it was all happening online, I was able to “do uni” a different way than back home, and improve my research and language skills, which will be helpful in the future. And even though I have been living alone for some time, moving to another country, where I didn’t know anybody, also has been a challenge.
However, that problem was solved immediately. Because the buddy system, societies, and the village I was living in, I quickly got to meet various new people, who I have grown to really love during these last four months.
Then, as soon as restrictions were lifted more and more, we could travel the country together and create memories (and so many pictures), which will make this semester in Ireland unforgettable.
Together we could roam various counties, be it by train, bus, or car, and go on hikes, walk through cities, and go swimming in the ocean. In the end, we got to see a many different sides of the gorgeous Emerald Island.
What surprised me the most was how much the time here has changed me as a person. Being away from familiar surroundings and everyone who had known me in a certain way, I had the change to rediscover and reinvent myself. I don’t think that would have been possible if I had not come here.
So, in conclusion, do I think studying abroad during a pandemic was worth it? Absolutely, 100 %, over and over again. Of course, it could have been better without a virus going around the globe, but the grass is always greener on the other side. All in all, I am very happy with my time here in Limerick and would not change a thing.
Also, in the end, I did get my pint.