I attempted to push the thought to the back of my mind, but I knew I could not deny it any longer. It was finally time to say goodbye to the beautiful green countryside of Ireland and hello again to the skyscrapers and sidewalks of Chicago. Although the end was bittersweet, the 8 weeks that led up to that end were full of memories I will carry with me for the rest of my life.
As I finished my last day of work at the Bank of Ireland, I could not help but reflect on the unique opportunity I had been given. I was able to not only learn about an international business environment in the classroom, but I was then able to live within that environment every day for an entire summer. As much as listening to professors in a lecture hall can help aid a student’s understanding of a business practice, environment or process, there truly is nothing like actually being able to immerse oneself in that environment. I was able to understand the financial markets of the country, learn about the public’s opinions of the financial services sector, attend a press conference with the CEO of the Bank and various national and international news outlets, and make long-lasting connections to businesspeople in Europe. In terms of my professional growth, I cannot express how much this summer has meant to me.
While professional growth is important, more importantly I grew as a person in a way that will affect all aspects of my life, not just my future career path. I found myself feeling and acting more independent than I already was, learning how to adapt to my surroundings, and how to make the best of a situation. When I look back to who I was just a few short weeks ago, I can honestly say that going to a different country for a whole summer and not knowing anyone before going has changed me for the better. I feel more confident and ready to take on whatever may come my way.
Interestingly enough, I think the biggest thing I learned from my study abroad experience was to appreciate everything I have and the finite amount of time I have left in college. I distinctly remember sitting in my apartment in Dublin and realizing that I was already halfway done with my college career, and in two short years I will have to say goodbye to Bloomington and enter the unknown of the “real world”. I promised myself right then and there that I would make the most of my time left in Bloomington, similarly to how I tried to make the most of my time in Ireland. Studying abroad has truly opened my mind to the endless possibilities of the world, and some of them are right in front of me. There are so many things that I haven’t done or experienced that I can do right in Bloomington, Indiana, and that realization already has me excited for the upcoming school year and what I can do to make it memorable.
I cannot express enough how valuable my time in Ireland was. I met great friends, traveled to places I never thought I would ever see, did things at work I never thought I would be able to do at such a young age, and saw a true development in myself, both personally and professionally. For me, it was not a difficult goodbye when leaving Ireland, because I cannot imagine not going back one day. Although I had to leave my summer adventure in Europe behind me, I already cannot wait for the future opportunities that the world may present me with. So, here’s to you Ireland. Sláinte.