This time last year, I was gathering advice and recommendations and stories from anyone I could talk to that studied abroad. I wanted to know everything to make the best decision I possibly could for myself.
I got the generic, travel a lot, save all of your money, time goes a lot faster than you think, don’t overpack, take more pictures than you think necessary.
But the one piece of advice that left me wondering was the people you meet abroad are going to change your life. While there were stories and things I took with a grain of salt, this was just something I wanted to understand but couldn’t.
Yet, here I am, finding myself about to say goodbye to the best possible friends I’ve made over the last five months. Tonight we are having our final farewell dinner, where we will all sit one last time and share stories, laughs, memories and hugs.
Some of these people I will never have the chance to see again. Some of these people will be my forever friends. No matter the extent of our relationship, every single person I have met during my time in Ireland has made an immense positive impact on my overall experience and life.
This time last year, I never thought I would meet the some of the most influential people in my life. I laughed at people who told me that the friends you make when you’re abroad are going to change your life. I laughed when I heard the stories that the friends you make when you’re abroad are going to see you at some of your lowest and highest points, and they will be there to help you through it, that they will just always understand.
While I believed I would have the chance to meet amazing people, I naively believed that the friends I make over the course of five months wouldn’t make as much of an impact as the friends I’ve made over the course of the last five years.
Wow, was I quickly proven wrong.
The thought of having to say a goodbye, a goodbye that’s more than just a see ya later, have a great summer, can’t wait for next semester; it’s a goodbye that’s representing a journey we’ve had the blessing of experiencing together that has left an unimaginable impact on my heart and soul. It’s a goodbye that represents thank you’s backed by shared adventures.
When you’re making the decision to study abroad or travel, you will be told that you will learn a lot about yourself and you will be challenged more than you ever have. You will be told that you will grow as a person and step out of every single comfort zone you have ever created.
Through these changes, though, you will always find passionately endless support from the people around you. You will learn a lot about yourself through the people you meet. The people you meet will challenge you.
The people I have met over these last five months have seen me grow, helped me understand the world a little better, picked me up spiritually when I was lost, without hesitation and without even knowing. I quickly learned that while all of these things I was told would help me grow, think and learn would be so heavily impacted not only by worldly interactions, but by human ones.
It’s ironic that the people I have spent every waking moment with these last few months heavily impacted the development of my independence. But together, we created a silent support system that allowed us individually to learn our sense of self. We understood the importance of self-exploration but recognized just how much we needed each other. This experience has changed my life, because of my friends that I have made while I was here.
The friends you meet while abroad will learn to understand you quicker than anyone has. Together, you share life-changing experiences. Together, you will see the same things and think completely different things. Together, you can talk to each other and understand. It’s an understanding that you’re friends from home can’t reciprocate, and that’s okay.
I come from a home and university where the most supporting and loving friends have blessed me. These friends have helped me through more than I can ever thank them for, but this time around it’s not easy for them to understand me.
The friends I have made abroad allow me to share stories of my experiences with unbiased advice, honesty and personal advice. While they might not be standing in the middle of a new city with me, they can understand what I’m experiencing. No matter what, they will always be waiting at my apartment when I get back ears open to all of my stories. It’s a connection that has become unbreakable over the last five short months.
So, as our time is coming to an abrupt end, I want to say thank you to the incredibly inspirational people I have met along my way. Galway has brought me lively streets continually captivating me and while I’m not ready to pack up my things, my hardest goodbye is going to be my best friends who have shared these roads, flights, craic and adventures.
In a few short days, life is bringing us all back to our home base, all across the country. We depart and go back our separate ways, from coast to coast and in between; scattered across the States, we will take our things and hug the people we’ve missed the most these few months. In the months to come, though, my heart will miss you. Every single one of you has made a positive impact on my life and have changed me for the better.
Thank you, to each and every person Galway and Ireland have brought me, for making these five months more than I can imagine leaving me with lifelong friendships that I will forever cherish.