Ever since High school I’ve always had the dream of going abroad while in college. Throughout my life I have been exposed to many cultures and have always connected the most with people of other countries. Their life, their experiences and the way they view the world as opposed to myself always fascinates me. It is this fascination that drives me to want to explore the world and immerse myself into the many cultures within it, starting with my family’s culture in Ireland.
My entire life I’ve always wanted Ireland to be the first country I wanted to visit and go abroad too because that is where my mother was born and where most of my cultural upbringing originates from. I wanted to experience and learn more about my own heritage before I can fully open myself to others. This course specifically will help me on this journey by forcing me to break out of my current bubble and become comfortable with the changes that await me. It will also help me break free from the experiences of my mother and allow me to create my own cultural background.
One of the key takeaways I will bring with me abroad and use as guidance is the encounter Elizabeth Shannon had with an Irishman, “I asked a friend of mine recently, an Irishman who spends some time each year teaching in Africa, why he enjoys going there so much. His reply reflects a major component of the study abroad philosophy: “When I am here in Ireland,” he said, “in a community where I am known and familiar, I make no effort being anything special. I am what I am, people know me, have certain expectations of me, and that’s that. In Africa, no one knows or, in my cases, cares who or what I am. The things that make me uniquely me-my education, my speech, my clothes-are meaningless to them. I can-and must-write myself all over again!” This really resonates with me because I find myself fading more and more, becoming more passive, with little ambition to reach my full potential. I am simply going through the motions of life and it scares me. I look forward to going abroad because it will force me to revive myself to not be confined to the traditional routine of my life. Whenever I find myself becoming passive and fading into the background, I will refer to this Irishman’s experience to remind myself to have a purpose to be ambitious, to create meaning for myself.