There are few things I love more than Georgetown. I could, and frequently do, go on about the school for hours, even when the person I’m talking to has already lost interest by the time I’ve reached the 20-minute mark. But no matter how much people love Georgetown, some reach a point during sophomore year when they decide that they need a break — a break from the stress, from the work, from everything in their Georgetown-centric lives. I was one of those people.

Everyone tells you that your semester abroad is the best of your life. Some people say that it’s a semester of freedom, where you can do whatever you want while gallivanting around a foreign country. Others say that it is a time when you find out who you really are. I kept worrying that I would be the exception — the singular person who hated her semester abroad and found it completely unfulfilling. I was excited, of course, but the entire summer leading up to it, I had this horrible, sinking feeling that I would be lost in Ireland.

When I arrived in Dublin Sept. 2, it felt like freshman year all over again, except this time we were served wine at our orientation events. During the first month, as much as I was enjoying my time, I couldn’t help thinking of Georgetown. It was as if there was a dull roar of “Hoya Saxa” in my mind at all times. I wrote on the Georgetown Phantoms Facebook group almost every day with random tidbits and fun facts, and when I looked at all of the pictures of the new members, it made my heart ache that I couldn’t be there. I kind of assumed that that’s what the rest of the semester would be like: During my free time, I’d think only of Georgetown, and console myself that it would be okay because I’d be back in a matter of months.

The third week of September, I went to an activities fair similar to the Student Activities fair where the “two Euros to join a society and 10 Euros to join a team” policy made me yearn for those listserv days. Either way, I made the decision that I wanted to fully embrace my time in Ireland. I wanted to do something new that I didn’t do at Georgetown, and so I signed up for the Ultimate Frisbee team. It turns out that was the best decision I’ve made since coming abroad.

After that, I had plans almost every day after classes, either with training or just hanging out with the other players. I had people to go out with, drink tea with and get burritos with. I acquired a solid group of friends here that drew my thoughts away from Georgetown, a group of friends that will not be easy to leave once my time in Ireland is over. The “Hoya Saxa” dull roar in my head disappeared and was replaced with thoughts of which pub to go to and which movie to watch with friends.

But even though I’m on the Ultimate Frisbee team, I still have so much more free time here, a rarity I never experience at Georgetown. I watched the entirety of “Nashville” in one weekend, and another Georgetown girl and I decided to watch every film on IMDB’s top 250 movies that we haven’t seen — although that’s still a work in progress. I don’t feel bad about sitting around watching movies and catching up on TV, and I don’t feel like I’m shirking any responsibilities. It’s a really great feeling.

I’ve biked across the Aran Islands and through the streets of Barcelona. I’ve gotten lost in Munich. I’ve swum in the Mediterranean. I’ve walked through the Green Light District of Christiania, Copenhagen. I’ve looked up and thought about how lucky I am to have been given the opportunity to study abroad. I never realized how busy I felt at Georgetown, and I’m hoping that when I go back I will remember how good it feels to sleep for 10 hours every night. Being away has helped me realize what and who I truly value at Georgetown, and what I should focus on when I return.

Although this experience has been incredible, I still miss Georgetown. I miss the incredible professors, the smaller classes, Leo’s, my Phantoms family, the theater people, Corpies, Blue and Gray friends and all the NSO-love. But 954 Facebook messages, 37 wall posts, 250 snapchats, 20 hours of skyping and 200 text messages later, I am a month away from leaving, and I can’t believe my time in Ireland is almost up. I fell in love with the Republic of Ireland. I can honestly say that this was one of the best semesters of my life and to my relief, I was not the exception.

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