1. Just because you're in an English-speaking country doesn't mean there won't be a language barrier. I'm in Dublin, which is basically as close to America as you can get in Europe, and I still find myself on Urban Dictionary or Google searching Irish slang almost every day. I love picking up new phrases (grand craic= great time) and it's a great little reminder that I'm in a totally different country.
2. As it's own country, Ireland is a baby, but as a society it's older than anything I've ever seen. This year is the centennial anniversary of the rebellion that STARTED the war that brought Ireland's independence from the UK. Politically we're less that 100 years old here, yet there are so many castles and monasteries that date back to B.C. years. It's a funny juxtaposition, being so close to structures built by Vikings and early settlers, and still being able to see bullet holes on states in Dublin from their rebellions and the war of independence.
3. Europe is so easy to travel around. I never thought I'd be 21 years old and be able to decide on a Monday that I'm going to fly to France the next weekend. Casually saying "oh, I think I'm going to Spain this weekend and then Italy the next" is totally normal around here and ITS UNREAL. I guess it's like taking a casual road trip to Canada when you're in America except so much cooler (sorry, Canada!)
4. Photo-storage is an issue. If you're thinking about traveling abroad, look into how much space is on your phone/camera, and then figure out the best way to store photos on your computer. Also, when you're deleting photos on your iPhone to create space for new ones, make sure to delete the photos from the deleted photos folder. It doesn't make any sense to me but you actually have to delete them twice to actually make space.
5. Because most of the BU programs are part class and part internship, we don't actually take classes with students at our host school. This makes it a little trickier to make friends, but totally not impossible! For example, our campus bar here holds an event every Tuesday called "shite night" that's really fun and that a lot of the local students go to. They basically just blast old music (think HSM and 90's pop) that everyone sings and dances along to. It's unlike anything I've ever seen in America but it's so fun because so many people go and get super into it. Learning about campus culture has been really interesting.
6. Being away has actually reaffirmed that I made the right decision when coming to BU. I've always loved BU and knew it was the right decision, but earlier this year I kept wondering if I would have liked being at a smaller school that wasn't located in a city. Living on a small campus and taking a bus into Dublin's city center has it's ups and downs, but it made me glad that BU has the best of both worlds when it comes to campus/city balance.
7. We're here for so much more than academics. The classes I'm taking are so great, but I definitely feel like most of the learning I've been doing is experiencing and adjusting different cultures. Getting lost in unfamiliar cities and adapting to foods and customs that I don't totally understand has given me a great perspective on how to handle tough situations and make my way through life wherever I am.
8. Your health is super important!! Between the classes, a new atmosphere, all the traveling, and spending so much time with the same group of students, it's easy for colds to catch on and spread. When one person gets a cold, it's super easy for it to spread to the entire program because our bodies are caught off guard with all the new things we're doing. I've learned that it's important just to be aware of what I'm doing and making sure I'm trying to stay as healthy as possible.
9. The grass is actually greener here. Like, in a very funny literal way, the grass in Ireland and VIBRANT and it's the most amazing ironic thing I've ever seen. You expect Ireland to be green and full of fields and sheep (which is true) but the grass itself is even greener. I'll never get over it. Also sheep are like cute little clouds with legs and they are super adorable.
10. Time will fly by! Okay, this one I knew, but it still surprises me how fast time is flying by. I'm about halfway through the program now and I have no idea how I'm going to fit in all the things I want to do before I leave. There's definitely a balance between taking advantage of the opportunities we have to see everything and not being so stressed about getting everywhere that you don't enjoy it. To anyone looking to go abroad, make a loose list of places you want to visit while you're gone, and then amend that list as you actually start to make plans. I've added and removed places that I want to travel to, but honestly there are no wrong moves 😉