This semester I left Gainesville, Florida and headed across the Atlantic Ocean for the first time. For the next three months, I will be able to learn, explore, and enjoy what Dublin has to offer. Here are some tips that have come in handy since I embarked on my adventure.
1. Don't nap on the first day.
To avoid prolonged jet lag, it helps to stay awake the day you get in. A twenty-minute nap turns into a five-hour sleeping spell and then you're wide awake at 1am. If you get in early in the morning, don't sleep until it's night time. You'll wake up the next morning super refreshed, ready to take on the day, and already adjusting to the new time zone.
2. Scan all important documents.
Keep a copy of your passport, any relevant letters, credit cards, and other important documents you might be taking with you. Hopefully, you won't need to use them, but just in case you lose the original document, there are proof and resources you could use. Personally, I kept a copy and also left one with my parents in case of emergencies. (Cause that what's rents are for.)
3. Document EVERYTHING.
You are in a completely different country! You have a full semester of journeys ahead of you. You're going to be doing so many amazing things, so when people ask what you did, there might be some fuzzy details and story hopping. Make sure to keep your stories straight. Take pictures, write in a journal, do both.
4. Explore while you can.
You are still going to school: taking classes, taking exams, studying in the library, and trying to pass. Chances are, you're going to have to stay in a lot. Use your weekends, days off, and week-long breaks to explore. Take dinner time as a chance to explore the city for a new pizza place. Use your morning jog as a way to make small in-city adventures for the next hour.
5. Try to learn the language. Seriously.
Luckily, in Ireland they speak English. I don't have that much of a problem. Until you realize that it isn't American English and 'arugula' is 'rocket' and 'good fun' is 'craic' (pronounced crack). I still have it easier than people going to Singapore or France though, let's be real.
6. While you're at it, talk to people from outside your country.
Take this opportunity to make friends from around the world. How many people can say that they have friends from Ireland, the United States, Germany, China, Poland, and Brazil? But don't ignore the group you came with. It's always good to hang out with people that get you and know where you are coming from.
7. And most importantly, it's okay to miss home.
Usually, people say you never want to leave. I mean, who wants to leave what seems like a giant, three-month long, holiday? Homesickness is real, though. And it's okay to miss mom and dad and your pets. It's okay to miss your bed and your bathroom and that really cute outfit you left because it just didn't fit. It's okay to miss home-cooked meals. Just don't let it stop you from having fun and enjoying every minute of your new adventure.