UI Study Abroad Blogger

As my study abroad experience is coming to a close, I often find myself scrolling through my camera roll remembering all of the beautiful places that I have had the opportunity to visit. I use social media to post pictures and keep friends and family up to date, and also as a way for me to document the memories I made here. There have been countless experiences that have not been caught on camera, but here are 4 main things that my social media does not tell you about my study abroad.

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When I first arrived in Florence, I knew that I wanted to be able to give back to the community in some way, I just wasn’t sure how. Lucky for me, my answer came quickly. My college informed us that they were offering the opportunity to volunteer at an Elementary school helping teach English.

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I literally heard an American tourist borderline yelling this at a Spanish employee during my recent trip to Barcelona, as if speaking louder and slower would make someone who did not understand the language magically be able to comprehend it.

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The majority of tourists heading to Ireland make the huge mistake of only going to Dublin. I have heard people say that they have “truly experienced” Ireland when they never even set foot out of the capital city.

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I am riding in the car. The anticipation of the vacation my family is about to embark on is building inside me. We arrive at the airport and the excitement dwindles for I know what comes next. Waiting.

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Trains have always intrigued me. Watching them speed by, I’d always wonder where their final destination was. They carry a sense of mystery. Who’s on them? Where are they going? What are they leaving from? Why are they traveling at all? All these questions would race through my mind, as I would watch the trains pass through.

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As I sat down to breakfast this morning, my roommate broke the news to me that only 27 more days remain until our study abroad experience comes to a close.

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Back in Iowa City after half a year in Beijing, I am struggling with re-adjustment. The process goes like this: watch four Star Wars movies on the flight back, half-heartedly suggest family Easter dinner at the Beijing Buffet on the Coralville strip, get car towed because a certain private parking lot has strengthened enforcement protocols, swerve at the sight of newly sprouted condominiums three houses down from my home, scroll through photo albums of China adventures, obsessively check friends’ WeChat updates, try to retrieve the part of me that is still sleeping and waking in Beijing time. Perhaps retrieval will come by way of writing and reflecting.

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We spend so much time rushing.

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How do you get to the point where you can call a place your home? I believe one of the factors is finding your favorite spots around the city. Cork is home to around 120,000 people, but it does not feel like it. It was not hard to be able to carve out a home for myself in this new place. One of the best things about moving to a new place is being able to explore it. It is very easy to walk or bike all over Cork. As I reflect on all the great things about my time abroad, I can’t help but think about the places that I will miss the most.

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