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What it’s Like to Study Abroad During a Global Pandemic

Hello from Ireland! I actually can’t believe that I finally made it here, even though it’s almost been a month already. When chatting with friends about the huge change that is studying in a completely different country (albeit English-speaking), we found that there are certain pandemic-specific happenings that are especially different from life at home and at Holy Cross. 

I think one of the biggest obstacles for me to overcome about this whole experience was being able to accept that it was going to happen at all. With the new variant emerging globally, along with curfews and lockdowns coming back into place, it was difficult for me to fully wrap my mind around the fact that I would be traveling across the world in the midst of it all. My mind couldn’t help but think back to the naivety I possessed in March of 2020, thinking that this would all blow over in a couple of weeks and that life would return to the way that it was. I was scared to fully believe that I would actually make it abroad because I had been let down so many times before. The harsh reality of cancellations, going virtual, and our “new normal” caused me to think that even if I was actually able to study abroad, it would be a half-baked and insufficient version of the experience that I always envisioned.

Nevertheless, here I am. Honestly, I braced myself for the worst. Fully virtual classes, 8pm curfew, travel bans, the works. But since being here, things have only improved. The 8pm curfew was lifted about 2 weeks after our arrival, allowing us to fully embrace the city of Dublin, which is finally starting to feel like another home away from home. Being that this is my first time in Europe, seeing all of the beautiful old buildings and scenery has been an incredible experience, and I know that it can only get better from here! 

While I was preparing myself for full-blown lockdown, I’ve quickly come to realize that simply adhering to COVID guidelines has enabled us to experience Dublin’s many amazing attractions, while also giving us the opportunity to travel outside of our city. From Dublin’s Temple Bar and Guinness Factory to the beautiful cities of Paris and London, we’ve been able to safely explore places far and wide. 

Taking classes here in the COVID-era has been all too familiar, but also completely different. There are still the occasional cancellations and last-minute zoom switches, but overall the material has been super interesting, especially my classes about Irish culture and heritage. While the classes themselves have been a lot bigger in size and therefore less personalized than those at Holy Cross, meeting students from all over the world has allowed me to view different ways of life that can’t be portrayed in a classroom. 

In the end, I know that this journey is just beginning. Adjusting to a completely new way of life hasn’t exactly been a walk in the park, but I am insanely lucky that I get to have this experience in the first place. The ability to see different parts of the world is such a privilege, and I’m so grateful that I’ve been able to see it through. So, if you’re debating going abroad due to all things COVID, I’d recommend taking the chance and at least filling out the application. Who knows what kinds of wonderful things could be in store!

Caroline Sullivan

Holy Cross '23

A Lover of books, coffee, and style from Long Island, New York!
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