It’s been three weeks since I got back from Ireland and my experience in the U.S. thus far has been an adjustment, but not as much as I thought it would be. That’s not to say that the first couple hours were not an absolute sensory overload. First mistake- flying into Newark airport after 9 months in Ireland. Actually, it’s always a mistake flying into Newark. However this time was particularly taxing on my peace of mind in that there was no room for peace of mind on a shuttle bus to Manhattan full to the brim with Americans and their luggage. The worst part came when we had to walk from the Port Authority bus terminal to Penn Station, with not much time to spare. Imagine pushing a suitcase with 9 months worth of clothes 10 blocks while surrounded by screaming Americans, honking taxi drivers, and guys trying to get you to take one of those hop on hop off tours of the city (dude, do you see this suitcase? move on to the next vulnerable tourist). Finally, we did make it to the train station and I was able to relax and eat a Sprinkles cupcake, a delicacy I desperately missed.
Aside from that initial shock to the system upon entering NYC and reaching for euro coins rather than dollar bills a few times, my transition has been relatively seamless. My week in Vermont before I started working in NYC was crucial. Vermont in some ways is an American equivalent to Ireland with its slower pace, pretty green places, and friendly people. After that week of indulging in local diner food and the incredible scenery, I was ready to move to the big city. It was not too difficult to just slide into a new routine and get excited about all the new exploring I can do right here in America. Speaking of which, I already made plans to visit one of my IFSA friends who lives on the west coast in January.
I’m still in the stage where most people are really interested in hearing about my travels, but I know that won’t last too much longer and that’s okay.
Here’s a very condensed list of things that I’ve learned:
-Anyone who can go abroad for the whole year should do it. I got so much more out of the experience by having time to settle in to Cork and travel more.
-Being abroad gives you clarity about who your true friends are at home
-Travel as much as you possibly can. If a place makes you uncomfortable, that’s not a bad thing.
-The study part of study abroad is meaningful too
-Journal a lot if you have the patience for it. I did some, but not enough.
These photos are from when I stayed with a real life Irish family in April and got a great sense of the western coast through hiking and sailing with them.