Galway

A World of Difference: How Studying Abroad Shaped Me

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Anna Lussier is a student at the University of New Hampshire and an ISA Featured Blogger. She is currently studying abroad with ISA in Galway, Ireland.

Whenever you ask someone about their experience studying abroad, a common theme is change. Learning to accept change, coping with change, and even changing as a person. It is hard to truly understand what people mean without living through a similar experience, but now I understand.

 This is my favorite picture that I have ever taken! A full rainbow on the Aran Islands. What’s better than this?!

This is my favorite picture that I have ever taken! A full rainbow on the Aran Islands. What’s better than this?!

Change, growth, independence, and joy are all words that I would use to describe my experience abroad.

  1. Change. This is, of course, a given. You are traveling alone to another country and living on your own for maybe the first time ever; obviously your life is going to change! You will quickly be immersed into a completely different culture, and you will eventually learn to accept and embrace this different culture. In my opinion, you will grow to love the culture for opening your mind up to a different way of life.
  2. Growth.  I believe that change and growth are often linked together. When faced with great change, you can either resist this change, or you can accept this change and grow from that acceptance.
  3. Independence. Growing as a person often leads to gaining maturity along with independence. This is a big one for me because I have always been so dependent on my twin sister, Meghan. This experience has forced me out of my comfort zone, and it has forced me to become comfortable and confident in my own skin. Finding a feeling of comfort and happiness within myself is something that I am truly grateful for.
  4. Joy. Last but not least, joy. The best gift that studying abroad has given me is unexplainable joy. It is hard to describe that feeling that hits you like a wave of happiness and excitement when being introduced to new places, cultures, and people for the very first time. It is like having a permanent smile on your face, and I believe that it is something that you can only find by traveling abroad.

Studying abroad gives you the opportunity to become less judgmental and more open to new ideas and cultures. You realize that although people may have different ways of life, the way that everyone feels and loves is the same no matter where you go. It gives you the opportunity to meet people that you would have never had the opportunity to meet, including locals and life long friends from other parts of the US.

This photo just puts everything into perspective for me. The view along the beautiful Salt Hill Prom in Galway.

This photo just puts everything into perspective for me. The view along the beautiful Salt Hill Prom in Galway.

Studying abroad has given me the gift of truly discovering who I am as a person, which is hard to fully understand unless you live it. I have learned the power of living in the moment, the ability to stay positive and look on the bright side of every situation, the power of putting yourself out there without the fear of rejection, and the ability to open up your mind to new and different ways of life.

All of these valuable gifts that studying abroad has given me have helped change my outlook on life. Before going abroad I struggled with anxiety, the fear of being judged, often comparing myself to others which made me struggle with confidence, and I allowed the little things to ruin my mood and even my day. Although some of these struggles, such as anxiety, are still prevalent in my everyday life, I am no longer consumed by these other negative thoughts.

I have changed, grown, and become more independent, and I have found so much joy because of my decision to study abroad, and for that I am truly thankful.

The world awaits…discover it.

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