Shannon: Endings and Beginnings

I struggled with writing this final post because I will never be able to accurately express my gratitude for this experience in words. This exchange has been beyond what I could have ever dreamed and I am so glad that I took the leap.

During my time here, I tried to remain open to new experiences but sometimes fear of the unknown would cripple me—especially since this was my first time solo travelling. I am a planner which was incredibly helpful when I was organising all of my paperwork beforehand. However, this was not so helpful when things didn’t go as planned, which is inevitable when you go to a different country. I’ll be honest—if you decide to go on an exchange, it isn’t easy but it is definitely worth it.

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These three cracked me up-spotted on the streets of Dublin.

There were times when I felt like a kid at Disneyland as I got excited about the Georgian buildings and scenery. However, I also felt so homesick and lonely sometimes that I would hide in my room, trying to hold back tears. If anything, what really got me through this experience was my faith and the support of loved ones. Instead of containing my fears and stress, I could hand it over to God and confide in close friends and family. It’s so important to stay in contact with people in your life who can support you in those difficult times because they will keep you grounded.

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My amazing flatmates from all over the world!
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Aoife, a leader at my church & the reason for my Butler’s addiction.

You may think that when you’re travelling, your friends and family don’t want to see you constantly bombarding their newsfeed with photos but I can assure you, they probably want to share those experiences with you and know that you’re ok.

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One of many home-cooked meals. It accomplished my goal: A. Show Mum I’m eating well and B. Satisfy my taste buds.
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I baked as well, taking study procrastination to a whole other level…

As I look forward to the future, I am excited for more adventures. Even though the fear and stress were struggles, they made me stronger. While I did come here to finish my degree, this experience was really about how it’s ok to not always have a plan. Sometimes, the best adventures aren’t the planned ones, but the spontaneous ones where you can try something different and step outside of your comfort zone. As Miss Frizzle in The Magic School Bus says, you should “Take chances! Make mistakes! Get messy!”

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Classic jump shot in the beautiful Dún Laoghaire-a seaside town just a bus/DART ride from Dublin city centre.
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Squashing myself into the tiny staircase of the James Joyce tower-inspiration for the first chapter of Ulysses!

Overall, I just want to encourage you to take a leap of faith and give the exchange experience a go. It is scary and there are a lot of things that you won’t know about the place you’re going to, but you can learn so much. I know that as I go forward, Ireland will always hold a special place in my heart and I will remember this experience and what I’ve learned from it for the rest of my life.

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Squashing myself into the tiny staircase of the James Joyce tower-inspiration for the first chapter of Ulysses!
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A final throwback to the wild beauty of the Wicklow Mountains

Thank you for following my journey and I hope that what I’ve shared has encouraged or helped you in some way. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out (shannon.murphy012@gmail.com) and all the best for your future adventures!

I can think of no better way to end this series of blog posts than with an Irish blessing so:

May the road rise up to meet you.

May the wind be always at your back.

May the sun shine warm upon your face;

The rains fall soft upon your fields and until we meet again,

May God hold you in the palm of His hand.

-Unknown

Shannon

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