Pre-Departure Confidence

Loren Thomas STEM Summer Research - Dublin, Ireland


June 3, 2019
Currently Studying at: STEM SUMMER RESEARCH - DUBLIN
Homeschool: University of Michigan

Today is the day! I’m currently sitting in the Charlotte Airport waiting for my flight to Dublin. My flight from Detroit landed a few hours ago, and I’ve been pacing the airport ever since.

I’ve been looking forward to this day since I received my acceptance letter in December. It was always something I’d say to people – “I’m studying abroad in Dublin this summer!” Yet, I never really pictured the day to arrive. I’ve spent the past few months researching and planning this trip. I’ve been thinking to myself, “When I get to Dublin, I’m going to…” It was always something that was in the future – more like an idea or a distant dream. And yet, here I am. Awaiting the attendant to announce that boarding has begun.

So far, this planning experience has brought me such great feelings of confidence. Confidence to be whoever I want to be in Ireland. It almost feels like a new beginning. The great thing about this specific program is that only a few people from each university are accepted. When I received the roster of other accepted students, I was worried. I didn’t know a single person on the list. Fortunately, I came to realize that this was a good thing. I don’t know any of those students, so they don’t know me. This gives me an opportunity to be whoever I want to be. I can be more confident, more outgoing, more supportive. Although introductions can be tedious, I am confident that it is just the beginning of amazing friendships.

Traveling across the globe has also brought me a sense of independence that I have not yet discovered about myself. I’ve lived at college for two years now, but somehow, living in Europe for eight weeks seems more daunting. I’m trying to use this as a strengthening experience. If something goes wrong while I’m at college, I can easily call my parents, and they’ll drive an hour to help me. During this trip, I can’t rely on my family and friends. I have to navigate this entire process on my own. And at the end of the day, I can’t just knock on my best friend’s door to chat or ask my parents to come to pick me up for dinner. I have to learn how to rely on myself for companionship. But surprisingly, I’m so excited to only have myself to worry about this summer.

I’m not going to lie; I’m terrified to be away from the people I love the most. Meeting new people and being in a foreign country will be extremely uncomfortable. But it’s a fresh start. Eight full weeks of learning to live by myself, take risks and make this trip exactly what I want it to be. I’m overwhelmed with more confidence that I’ve ever had in my life. Confidence to wear my striped overalls and floral pants, confidence to try that weird-looking food, confidence to go to clubs downtown and strike up a conversation with the locals. From this point on, it’s just me and my confidence. See you in ten hours, Dublin!