I was planning to talk about my experience in Ireland but then I realised that I’d have to write a novel to even cover the basics. So let’s start with a key word: change. Of course everybody knows that going to another country means a change but I don’t think that anyone who hasn’t experienced it themselves could ever understand how much this simple word actually means.

Yes, it means a change of environment and language but that doesn’t even come close to covering it. It also means a change in you as suddenly you surprise yourself, effortlessly managing situations that would have terrified you only a few months or even weeks ago. As you suddenly turn around and realise that all the relationships that define your life are built all by yourself. That the people you love and care about have no connection with home whatsoever. It means that one day you will realise that all the times laughed and cried in the last few months come back to you and only you. There is no one else to blame. You’ve built this life for yourself. And yes it’s scary but, even if you mightn’t want to admit it, you will feel proud for managing.

Even though attitude plays an important role in making this experience a good one there is also luck involved. I most certainly was very lucky. Lucky to have amazing host parents who made this house feel like home, in no time. Lucky to find people that became my friends, despite the fact that I asked a lot of strange questions on my first day. So if the new girl, that you’ve never talked to before wants to know, if you think she could be in higher level English, chances are she’s just desperate to make a friend. Maybe I was desperate for a day or two but soon I became part of a group of truly wonderful people that had the decency to always point out my frequent mispronunciations and only occasionally laugh at me.

I can’t even express the love that I developed for people that I only met a short while ago. I`m actually staying a few days longer so I can celebrate my best friend’s 18th birthday with her. Now the thought of leaving is scaring me much more than going abroad ever did. Yes, I went somewhere I had never been before to live with people I had never met but I always knew I’d come back home but leaving my new home feels incredibly final.

I won’t sugar coat it. Going abroad is probably the way of the biggest heartbreak. But to have your heart broken you must have loved first and that’s the greatest gift. I’m so thankful for all the love, this place has inspired. But it’s also the biggest adventure, from the exciting days of travel to sitting around the fireplace with tea and taytos.

Together with my fellow adventurers, I visited Galway, Belfast and even London. It’s hard to figure out a general highlight but if I’d have to choose I would probably say it was the day that we went to the roof of the tate modern. We have had a long day and just sat there for a moment looking over the city, reading books that we got in the gift shop. And suddenly I thought, wow. We made it here to a city where we don’t know anybody, we booked the flights and the hostel and now we’re here. These people next to me, I would trust with my life even though they were strangers only seven months ago and in a few days I will go home to a place I haven’t even known a year.

Not a year ago I was a child that thought she knew everything and now I’m a girl that is pretty sure she knows nothing. And yes some of it I had to learn the hard way. For a while I was very unhappy with the dependence on my host parents if I wanted to get anywhere and had this idea that it was someone else’s job to make me happy again. But I eventually learned to pull myself together and make sure of my own contentment. And strange as it sounds, the first step in doing that is asking for help. I got this help from my host family and I have, in all honestly never been happier.

If you want to go abroad, don`t be afraid. Don`t worry about all the problems you’ll have because you won’t have any of them but instead a lot of problems that never would have thought of. And I can tell you one thing: I have met a lot of international students in my time here and not a single one regretted this decision. On my behalf, it is probably the best one I’ve ever made.


Clara Piegler

May 20th 2018