Why You Should Study Abroad in Dingle Ireland

As a college freshman I was so excited to start my first year in a new school, a new state, and a new living space. I always knew I wanted to study abroad in college, but I didn't think I would be doing it a week before my freshman year started. The SHU pre-fall study abroad program in Dingle, Ireland was the best decision of my life. Traveling at a young age gave me a new found confidence, and independence that I thought would take me years to achieve. 

In my opinion, every college freshman should take the opportunity to study abroad because I made new friends before the school year even started- and these are the friends that I would bring back to campus with me. I made unbreakable bonds with people that no other college freshman had made, and this gave me extra social confidence. After spending a week traveling the South of Ireland along the Kerry coast and the Dingle Bay, something automatically connected me with every other person on that trip. Exploring ancient castles, waterfalls, towers, mountains and churches gave us all something in common- we were Pioneers. We all had a love for traveling which made us appreciate every new discovery, and in turn appreciate each other. 

When I first started my journey I was worried something would go wrong in a foreign country, and I wouldn't be able to contact my family. I did not overcome homesickness and living on my own like every other college freshman, this is because I learned how to take care of myself in a foreign country, not on a college campus. Some things were similar- cooking for myself, doing my own wash, and eating and exercising right; but a lot of things were different. I had to keep track of my own money and budgeting, aka, paying for everything myself. I had to be responsible with alcohol in a country where the drinking age is 18, and I had to learn to judge the character of strangers and decide if I could trust them or not. All of these things knocked the homesickness right out of me. On a college campus it's easy to get distracted because home is usually less than 5 hours away, but when you're 3,167 miles away from your family, it forces you into survival mode- otherwise known as smiling through whatever homesickness you’re actually feeling on the inside.  

Seeing a foreign country at a young age was one of the best experiences of my life because I was free to explore the magic of Dingle. I felt the sands of the deserted Blasket Islands, and galloped through the waves of the Dingle Sea on horseback. I ate black pudding, potatoes and fresh fish, and I tasted the sweet juice of the fuchsia flower. I gazed at six story gushing waterfalls, hiked grassy hills, worshiped in beautiful churches, and danced to authentic Irish music. I ate Irish cream ice cream, sat on the cliffs of the Dingle Sea and pet the softest sheep in County Kerry. I made lasting memories in Dingle, Ireland that I will carry with me the rest of my four years in college.  

Every college freshman should study abroad because you will find new friends, new faith, and independence. Getting out of your comfort zone and exploring is the best way to make memories; and Dingle, Ireland is the best place to do that.