Taking the Leap

Bailey Burke Dublin, Ireland


April 8, 2022

I’ve always been a homebody. My friends and family were surprised when I decided to go to a big school (the University of Michigan) for undergrad. I was a little surprised too, but it was only a couple hours from home, and I soon found ways to make such a big school feel like a small community. 

Just when things were starting to return to normal after COVID—the normal I had glimpsed in my first semester, freshman year—I decided to leave the community I’d built behind and go to a big school on the other side of the world: the University College Dublin (UCD). I must be crazy, right?

As I packed my bags, debating which shirts I’d most need for the next four months, I had more than one “I can’t believe I’m doing this” moment. It was scary to step into such a great unknown. I’d never really left the country (well, I’ve been to Canada. But when you’re from Michigan, Canada doesn’t count as international travel). My travel experience was limited to family road trips, cramped in the backseat of a minivan. Dublin was—and still is—a big step for me. 

Though it would have been easier and more comfortable to stay in Ann Arbor, I don’t regret taking the leap into the unknown. I’ve already seen and done so much in my first month here— things I can’t do back home. I’ve played hurling and Gaelic football, visited lovely coastal towns, figured out the Dublin bus system, listened to buskers along Grafton street, admired many of Dublin’s stunning churches, and started experiencing beautiful spring weather while my friends back home are buried in snow. 

It hasn’t been smooth sailing every step of the way—I had a dental emergency my first week here, and a few weeks after that I had to quarantine for a week with COVID. Arcadia staff have been so helpful. They’ve checked in with me when I was unwell, and always had great advice when I wasn’t sure what to do. Part of the reason I was able to make the leap and study abroad was because I knew that there would be Arcadia staff right here in Dublin if I ever had an emergency. 

So to anyone considering studying or traveling abroad, my advice is to take the leap. You might not know where you’re going or what to expect, but it will be worth it. There’s a great, big world out there, filled with stories and sights to be found. Day by day, I’m discovering new things here in Ireland. 

I’ll leave you with a few interesting things I’ve learned from my time in Ireland so far:

  1. There are palm trees in Ireland. Like, a lot of them. They adorn people’s yards and can even be found in the heart of downtown Dublin! I never would have expected that. 
  2. Despite the popularity of Bailey’s Irish Cream, Bailey is viewed as a really unique and uncommon first name! My classmates here at UCD have given me a lot of compliments.
  3. It doesn’t constantly rain here. It’s only rained a handful of times in Dublin since I’ve been here. In fact, I’ve seen the sun more than I would have in Michigan this past month.
  4. The chocolate is the real deal here. American candy just doesn’t compare. 
  5. Peanut butter is hard to find. Irish people just don’t really eat peanut butter, so you really have to look carefully in the grocery store to find it. I recommend Panda peanut butter