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Bittersweet Endings of a Sweet Semester Abroad

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Saint Mary's chapter.

As the semester comes to an end, students currently studying abroad have a whirlwind of emotions running through their minds. While some are already getting emotional with the thought that reality will hit soon, others are eager to reunite with their families and friends at home. Some are more sad than others, but everyone has a story to tell. Each one is unique. Here is how some students currently studying abroad feel about the overall experience and their time abroad coming to an end:

Q: What is one thing you regret/wish you did while studying abroad?

‘I wish I was able to travel to a few more places on my bucket list.’ (Anna Mason, Italy)

‘One of the things I regret is putting things off. You don’t realize how fast the semester goes until you’re near the end of it. One of my goals was to go to Scotland, but I ran out of time. If I could redo my time abroad, the one thing I would change would be to seize the day and live in the moment.’ (Jane Pingel, Ireland)

‘One thing I regret is I never journaled my experiences. So much has happened in such a short period of time, I wish I wrote about it so I don’t forget it in the future.’ (Chloe Jacobs, Spain)


Q: In what ways have you changed while abroad?

‘I would say I have become a lot more independent since I have been abroad. I am more comfortable and confident going in situations where I do not know people.’ (Anna Mason, Italy)

‘The ways I have changed are too many to list. I would say in general, I have grown in independence and confidence throughout my time abroad. Choosing to study abroad took me out of my comfort zone and forced me to grow as a young woman in ways that I never expected. Traveling requires a certain amount of courage and self-reliance, and I’m so grateful to have been given the opportunity to grow in these areas. I becameaware of my self-worth and capabilities.’ (Jane Pingel, Ireland)

‘This semester in Ireland has changed me in so many ways it’s hard to even put it into words. I have grown so much in independence, and no longer feel like I have to rely on anyone. I have also became so content with being on my own, and doing things by myself. I love going to a cafe in town, drinking tea and enjoying the time I have to think. This being said I have learned to get out of my shell, and talk to new people (and let me just say the Irish people are some of the nicest people I have ever met). My whole outlook on life has completely changed since being abroad. Everyone has a story you can learn from, but you will completely miss out if you don’t reach out to new people. I have gotten so much better with just being present in the moment, and enjoying the company I am with. I have a new respect for different people and cultures, that I was never able to attain without leaving the US. I have realized just how quickly time flies, and want to take full advantage of every opportunity that God puts before me. There’s so many adventures and memories waiting to be made…. You just have to take that first step.’ (Jordan Marsman, Ireland

‘I had definitely matured a lot more. I’ve had to learn how to manage money, book flights and accommodation, and most importantly adjust to a completely different atmosphere.’ (Chloe Jacobs, Spain)


Q: What are you looking forward to the most as you prepare to return home?

‘I am looking forward to seeing my friends and family! I also will be happy to have dryers at home.’ (Anna Mason, Italy)

‘I’m most looking forward to being back with my family and friends. That was the most challenging part of being abroad. I live in South Bend and go to Saint Mary’s, so I havealways lived very close to home. This is the farthest away from home and my family that I have ever been. I am looking forward to being able to share my experiences with them.’ (Jane Pingel, Ireland)

‘I am looking forward to seeing my family above all. My youngest brother has grown up so much since I have been gone, and I miss his laugh above all. I’m also looking forward to seeing all my friends, and hearing all about the past few months while I was away. I’m looking forward to meeting my niece that was born while I have been away, and seeing how much the rest of my nieces and nephews have grown. I’m also (of course) looking forward to seeing my three dogs when I get home (I think I may have missed them most of all).’ (Jordan Marsman, Ireland)

‘To see my family and friends! I miss seeing them/talking to them whenever I want (the 6 hour time difference sucks)’ (Chloe Jacobs, Spain)


Q: What are you looking forward to the least?

‘I am not looking forward to leaving Italy. It is such a beautiful country and I wish I could explore more of it. I also will miss the friends I made here. Going back and living in a dorm with a meal plan will also be an adjustment again.’ (Anna Mason, Italy)

‘What I am looking forward to the least is losing the absolute freedom and independence I have living here.’ (Jane Pingel, Ireland)

‘I’m not looking forward to having to go back and take a summer class, and go to work. I am also not looking forward to leaving this beautiful country in general. I am also very much going to miss spending time and making memories with my friends everyday when I get home.’ (Jordan Marsman, Ireland)

Q: What advice would you give someone who wants to study abroad?

‘It is definitely worth doing!! It may be difficult being away from home, but everyone is in the same boat as you. Even if you do not come with close friends, you will make friends.  It is such an enriching experience for your life.’ (Anna Mason, Italy)

‘The advice I would give to someone who is thinking about studying abroad is DO IT. You will become a better person because of it. I am not the same person I was when I got on the plane to come to Ireland. I have grown and changed in many ways, and I’m happy with where I am now. Even for those people who tend to be more introverted, trust me. I am an introvert, and still had the time of my life. You make your time abroad what you want it to be. I used it as a time of self-reflection and adventure. It is what you make it to be. I went back and forth for a while about coming to Ireland, but I realized that this is a once in a lifetime opportunity and I would regret missing out on it. I am so happy I decided to make the leap.’ (Jane Pingel, Ireland)

‘If you are thinking about studying abroad, I promise it will be the best decision you will ever make. You learn to be independent, and make decisions that are best for yourself. You will meet new people, and learn all about a new culture. The people you study abroad with become some of your best friends. It is unlike any experience you will ever have. Don’t waste even one day while being abroad. Go on adventures, go for walks with your friends, go to a local pub and talk to the locals, go to a cafe and have cup of tea, and travel as much as possible. Don’t be so consumed with your phone to enjoy what is right in front of you (BE PRESENT). It will fly by quicker than you can ever imagine, so just enjoy it. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity, and one that you will not soon forget.’ (Jordan Marsman, Ireland)

‘Live in the moment. While having a plan is important, every time I’ve traveled, something unexpected has happened that I’ve had to adjust my plans. Have fun and make the most of your time’ (Chloe Jacobs, Spain)

Q: What will you miss the most?

‘I will miss the ease of walking to the grocery store for food and knowing everything will be so fresh. I loved walking all over for different places.’ (Anna Mason, Italy)

‘I am going to miss the beautiful scenery of Ireland and the friendly hospitality of the people living here. I will also miss the independence I experienced living here.’ (Jane Pingel, Ireland)


‘I don’t think there is even one thing I won’t miss about being in Ireland. I will miss being able to take a train/bus and just go explore Ireland. I will miss the beautiful scenery that leaves me in awe each and every time. I will miss being able to hop on a plane and go to a different country for a few days. I will miss the Irish accents, and the words “cheers” and “grand.” I will miss the people, and how kind every person is. I will miss being able to walk into town and get a cup of tea at the cutest little cafes. I will miss being able to go on walks with my friends and seeing the beautiful green grass, and cutest fluffy sheep. I will miss the Irish pubs, and making the best memories surrounded by new and old friends. Oh and how could I forget.. I think I’m going to miss Caramel hot chocolate the most!’ (Jordan Marsman, Ireland)


‘The friends I’ve made abroad. They’re all incredible people that I’m going to miss seeing every day. Oh and having gelato whenever I want.’ (Chloe Jacobs, Spain)


Q: What is the most important lessons(s) you learned while studying abroad?

‘I learned that we are very sheltered in America. It is difficult going to other countries where we don’t speak the language. People are kind and even when we don’t speak the same language you can still get your point across sometimes. The cultures of different people are very interesting, and I feel like it was good to put myself in a completely new climate.’ (Anna Mason, Italy)


‘The most important lesson I learned while I was abroad was that I am fully capable of doing things myself. I have never experienced this total independence and reliance on myself. I had to learn how to handle my finances and tick to a budget. I had to learn to cook for myself and maintain a healthy diet. While I was traveling in Italy, I had to throw myself into it and learn how to navigate and communicate with the people there. I learned that I can do all of those things. I learned more about my competence.’ (Jane Pingel, Ireland)

‘The most important lesson I learned being abroad is to be present with the people I am with. It happens way too often that we are too busy staring at our phones that we miss something amazing that’s right in front of us.’ (Jordan Marsman, Ireland)

‘I’ve learned the importance of making a packing list. Also, you can never be TOO early to the airport.’ (Chloe Jacobs, Spain)


Q: What is your favorite memory from studying abroad?

‘There are so many to choose from! One of my favorites would be showing my friends from other programs around Rome. I knew where I was walking to, and I could show them my favorite places. I felt like I was actually living there and not just visiting short term. Sharing experiences with friends and traveling around with them also created great memories.’ (Anna Mason, Italy)

‘My favorite memory from studying abroad was staying at a Bed and Breakfast in the Wicklow mountains. It was a sheep farm of one-hundred acres, and they had a viewpoint in the back. It was a steep hill with a bench at the top. When I reached the top, I could see a 360 degree panorama view of the Wicklow and Dublin Mountains, and the Irish sea. As far as the eye could see, I saw the untamed beauty of Ireland. The green, rugged landscape, the sheep and their lambs feeding on the surrounding hills. The wind nearly knocking me over. I remember thinking: This is Ireland. This is what I’ve called home for the past five months. How lucky am I?’ (Jane Pingel, Ireland)


‘My favorite memory while being abroad was a trip to Belfast. This trip I was able to learn so much about the sad history of Ireland (especially Belfast). We were able to sign the peace wall, and it was so humbling to make our mark on something with such a sad past that has become a symbol of hope for Belfast. This weekend we were also able to take a tour that brought us to dark hedges, the Carrik-a-Rede rope bridge, and giants causeway. The views were some of the prettiest I have seen my entire time in Ireland. I conquered a fear of crossing the bridge, and the view was 100% worth it. The giants causeway was unlike anything I had ever seen before, and I hope I never forget what it looks like. Besides learning about the history of Belfast and seeing incredible views of Ireland, the people I went with topped it off as the best trip I have had during my time abroad. I went with three of my closest friends, and there wasn’t one moment the whole trip that we weren’t making each other laugh or making memories that we will never forget.’ (Jordan Marsman, Ireland)


‘My favorite memory would be visiting La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona. It was honestly one of the most unique churches I’ve ever seen and I was taken back by the beauty and detail of not only the outside but the inside.’ (Chloe Jacobs, Spain)


Marie is from a suburb near Chicago, Illinois. She enjoys spending time with her friends and family, and traveling to new places. When she's not writing or working hard on school work you can find her attending Notre Dame football games, watching Netflix or snacking on something sweet (or chicken nuggets).
Colleen Zewe

Saint Mary's '18

I love fall, holidays, PSLs and forcing my dog to take pictures with me for Snapchat.