10 May 2011
Today is my last full day in Ireland, I can’t believe it is time to go home already. When we were told during orientation that the time would fly by, I didn’t think it would go by so quickly. And now here I am, four and half months later packing up to go home.
I was able to spend the first week of May basking under the Barcelona sun and exploring the wonders of the city. The trip was bittersweet, as it was my last trip to the continent before spending my final days in Galway.
How to say goodbye?
Packing turned out to be quite the challenge as I accumulated a lot of stuff in a matter of four short months! Trying to keep my large bags underweight started to become a game – how much could I add to one suitcase and take away from another to keep them at 50 pounds. Packing was also difficult emotionally; knowing that I was not just packing for another trip, but instead to go back home and saying goodbye to my wonderful roommates turned out to be really hard. The friendships I created while abroad were amazing and I hope to keep in touch with them, even if we do live thousands of miles away.
Galway, there is nothing quite like the heart of it. The city is so charming and quaint - it has nothing to do, but everything to do at the same time. It was a perfect place to spend the semester. My home away from home, so to speak. Although I know I will come back someday, it’ll be under different circumstances.
One of the most difficult aspects to leaving, aside from saying goodbye to friends, is the knowledge that I will most likely not have the same opportunities and freedom to travel and live in another country like this. Since I was an incoming freshman, I’d this idea that I wanted to study abroad for a semester and have worked hard to achieve that goal. After getting accepted into the Ireland program, I had been looking forward to stepping onto the plane that would take me to a life changing experience. Over the last four and half months I have been living my dream. And now that it is time to go back, I feel somewhat lost and unsure of what the next step is for me. Yes, I have other goals, but this was/is a chapter in my life that I am not sure if I am ready to leave yet.
A Whirlwind of Emotions.
In this moment I’m struggling to pinpoint exactly what I’m feeling about leaving. I feel excitement to go home and be surrounded with familiarity, family, and friends. Yet, I am sad to be leaving this beautiful country and the friends I have made. But I also feel anxiety and some fear about differences in culture (will I be in culture shock upon my return?) and of how others will perceive me as I know I have changed. I know I am overanalyzing this, but I am sure that most returning study abroad students feel at least some of what I am experiencing right now. To say the least, it has been an incredible journey.
So, goodbye Galway, hello Portland!