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Study Abroad Advice from Older Siblings

Preparing for studying abroad has been hectic, to say the least. Keeping up with all the documents I need in order to study in Ireland has been the most stressful part. I've also been reading approximately a thousand ‘How to Pack for a Semester Abroad’ articles and then going to my wardrobe, which is tailored for Southern Texas weather, to see what will work for winter in Dublin. So far I’ve found a pair of wool socks. Oh, and finals week just ended. Essentially, these last few weeks have been a bit overwhelming.

Luckily, my family is very fortunate in that we have been given multiple opportunities to travel. My older brother and sister were both able to study abroad in Spain for a semester while they were in college. Being the youngest child comes with multiple perks, but it’s especially useful when I need advice about things my older siblings have already been through. Admittedly, the advice is usually unsolicited, but this time I asked my siblings if they had any tips to offer or what they wished they knew before studying abroad.

My brother, 24, studied in Seville, Spain, for the spring semester of 2012. He had this to say: “I’d have liked to know how cold it was going to be, I would definitely have also brought more nice clothes. Going out at night was a big part of my experience and it was also really the first time I’d been out anywhere but Wild West in Lubbock. I wasn’t aware of how nice people dressed. I definitely had a lot of anxiety about looking ratty compared to everyone. I would have also made a budget earlier than I did. Money really flies out of your hands because trips are so expensive.”

 A picture taken by my brother on one
of his trips to Lisbon, Portugal

My sister, 22, studied in Córdoba, Spain, for the spring semester of 2014. She offered this:

“I was really wary of the friendships I was going to make. I’d heard that your study abroad friends become some of your best friends, and I found that hard to believe. How could friendships formed over a few months be more meaningful than ones formed over years? I honestly thought people were just exaggerating their experiences. I was so wrong. It’s hard to understand, but when you’re separated from everyone you love the friends you make become so important to you. Things happen to you abroad that are not only entirely new experiences for you, but more than half the time you can’t predict them. Your friends are also going through the same thing as you, and what happens is that your relationships form so rapidly because you have to depend on each other more than you expected or maybe even wanted to. I would definitely say my friends from abroad are some of my best friends, we even all got together last winter for a reunion!”

 A photo taken by my sister in Segovia, Spain

What I've gathered is that I need to pack  warm, nice clothes, not be prejudiced against new friendships, and prepare a budget. The first two are no problem, for that last one I'm not too prideful to admit that I'm in need of some more advice.

Alice Corcoran is the Spring 2016 CEA MOJO Blogger in Dublin, Ireland. She is currently a Junior at Texas A&M University.



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