One glass of mulled wine

Well, this is awkward.

I remember telling myself a month ago that I would be updating this blog regularly. I’m a little embarrassed to be finally writing a post about my time so far in Dublin, but here goes. I promise that I won’t be super rambly.

One month in: some thoughts

I don’t like change and I never have. I was dead nervous to get on the plane in Philadelphia and throw my familiar life to the wind for a semester in another country. I was not thrilled, and the days leading up to the flight I could hardly sleep and my anxiety was on an all-time high.

I did get on the plane, and to my own surprise, I landed in Dublin.

The first week was odd. The first day was borderline miserable. As cool as it was to be in a new country, trying to keep my eyes open after an overnight flight and also absorb the new sights and sounds was not. The next few days were strange because it felt like a short vacation. I kept thinking that after a week I would be packing up again and going home to Notre Dame. It made me really sad to think about my friends back on campus – especially the ones that I hadn’t seen since May.

The first week was also a lot better than I could have imagined. I met some incredible humans that I have grown close with this past month, and have laughed louder and smiled more than I had in a while. We went dancing, we drank cheap mixed drinks, and we sipped beer at pubs (but I had tea. I hate beer. THERE I SAID IT!). I still got nervous when a bouncer looked at my real ID even though it was 1. real and 2. I was very much over the age of 18. During the first weekend, we took a day trip to the pretty coastal town of Bray, where we went on a lengthy cliff walk and I wished I could have stayed in the fresh air forever.

The second week didn’t go as well.

It was the first week of class, and I was as frazzled as I was during the first week of freshman year. I had no idea where anything was but I felt more like an outsider this time. I felt like I stood out like a sore thumb – not only was I American, but Ireland is also 84.5% Caucasian and I was a rare breed.

The highlights of the week were the times spent at O’Connell House, which is the Notre Dame center in Dublin. It is truly a special place, and everyone who works there tries their best to help you feel at home.

The second week we started planning trips for the semester. To say it was stressful is an understatement. My friend Katelyn and I decided to visit our sweet friend at Oxford University during our first travel weekend. I was relieved that it was a close distance and that we would be staying with a friend.

The second weekend was spent in Sligo at the Yeats Winter School. This weekend was horrific for many reasons and none of them had to do with Sligo or Yeats. I learned a lot from this weekend. I learned that trust should be earned, and not given. I learned that I had great people who I could lean on here. I learned that adjusting to a new support system during a rough time of mental health was more difficult than I anticipated. I learned that people who act kind to your face can sometimes treat you like trash when you’re not there. I learned that love is hard but it is always worth it.

Things started picking up the third week.

It was an odd week. I had been thrown an emotional curveball over the weekend, and I fell into a minor depressive episode. It was difficult to make it to my classes and keep a brave face, but I did my best and ultimately faked it till I made it.

The third week did have a great weekend to look forward to. Katelyn and I were finally on our way to visit Kelly! Kelly is a true gem of the earth. If you are lucky enough to know her, then you are incredibly lucky.

Our weekend at Oxford was truly magical – and it wasn’t just because a lot of Harry Potter was filmed there. From throwing pennies at a crew date to sipping afternoon tea and milk, it was a three days filled with good conversation and lots of joy. Oxford was gorgeous and quaint, modern and old-fashioned all at once.

It was a glass of mulled wine that finally got me out of my funk. The weekend in Sligo had left me feeling depressed and vulnerable, but on a Saturday night, over a fantastic glass of mulled wine, I realized how blessed I was. A few booked trips to Rome, Prague, Vienna, Budapest, Amsterdam, Barcelona and London (with more to come!) also made my life feel like an absolute dream.

I don’t think I’ll be able to adequately describe how much I needed that weekend, or how much better it made me feel. All I know is that I am grateful for the people and moments that made it special.

This first month has been no walk in the park.

This first month has also contained some of the sweetest and best moments of my life. Dublin is an amazing city – there is always something to do and something to see. I was never very much into vintage until I stopped in a few shops here, and my tea habit has exploded into something of a mild addiction (one could also argue that I may be mildly addicted to shopping).

There have also been a few days when I’ve really struggled with my mental health here. I’m naturally introverted, but I have been trying to be more social and outgoing here. I need to be more cognizant of taking alone time and keeping up with my journal (hopefully I won’t be ignoring my blog again).

Alright, that’s all I have for now. I promise that I’ll have more detailed posts in the future since I left a good number of moments out of this one. I’ll end with some snaps that I’ve taken in the past 30 days.

Also, to all of you that haven’t studied abroad yet – they don’t lie, the time DOES FLY. I have never felt so lucky.

The light in me honors the light in you,

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