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Everything you need to know about studying abroad

I'm one of those people who thrives on routine. I have 2 planners, I color-code everything, I use packing cubes, always have hand sanitizer or sanitizer wipes on me, and I do laundry once a week regardless if I have more clean clothes. I am your stereotypical type-A personality. But when you study abroad, there are some things that I had to learn to keep, and some to let go of.
 From a recent visit to the famed Cliffs of Moher last week!

Planning is good, plans are bad

 Although going of the trail at Bray was a challenging climb, this view was well worth it.

Booking your flights and finding a place to stay if you're traveling are good. Micromanaging every second of your time in a new city or country will end up disappointing you or making you feel like you're racing a clock instead of enjoying your surroundings. Having the major things planned is key - knowing when your exams are, when your trips are, when due dates are, etc., but there is no point in trying to plan every museum you want to see or making a plan for how you want a group meeting to go. It just won't happen. Plus, the best things often happen when they're far off the schedule, like climbing up the side of the mountain instead of taking the trail.

Rest is good, laziness is bad

 At the Guinness Storehouse, they have a part of their museum dedicated to the time spent brewing their products.
These clocks have been an image that reminds me to capitalize on my time here in Dublin.

A few weekends ago, I was planning on staying in Dublin, but I wanted to get out and explore the city a bit. There is so much to do here, from museums, bus tours, boat tours, festivals, and more. So, I woke up around 9 AM, which felt like sleeping in to me, and walked downstairs in the hopes that I could entice one of my roommates or classmates to explore with me. I was a little frustrated at the time, because many of them ended up sleeping until noon or later. You won't be able to enjoy or succeed in your classes or travels if you're exhausted, of course, but there comes a point where you end up missing out on the wonderful things that a study abroad experience has to offer if you spend all of your time sleeping or watching Netflix.

Curiosity is good, ignorance is unacceptable

 This exhibit was from an art museum in Glasgow, Scotland. At first, I was not a fan of this display, 
but after staring at it for a while I came to appreciate the hours it must have taken for the
artist to craft so many facial expressions, much less hang them up.

I'm sure that many other Americans can attest to this, but when native Irish citizens realize that I am American, they are instantly intrigued by our current state of affairs. I can't blame them, especially since American policies have such a massive impact on Ireland - some Irish joke that Ireland is the 51st state - but regardless of your views on American issues or global issues for that matter, to become a global citizen, I believe it is imperative to make an effort to know what is happening in the world and learn how to express your opinion or admit that you don't know in a manner that will allow you to learn rather than close others off. For example, at CEA Dublin, you will take classes with French, Spanish, German, and even Mongolian students at the very least. Wanting to know about their lives and their home countries is wonderful, but criticizing someone else's way of life just because it is different than yours is not. Rather, learning how to respect differences will be one of the most difficult but most rewarding parts of your experience.

Bravery is good, hubris will get you in a lot of trouble

With any new country, you have to be brave at times. That could mean asking for directions in a language you're learning, asking a professor for a grade correction, and so much more. But there comes a point where bravery turns into a dangerous form of recklessness. I was flying to Scotland a few weeks ago, and I ended up on a different flight than the rest of the group, and thus in a different terminal in the Dublin airport. The young man in front of me was going through security, and I don't know what he had in his bag that lead to this, but he argued with the security agents until he was escorted off the premises. This is a very drastic example of course, but I was so grateful to CEA for teaching us which members of the authorities are truly inflexible and which ones you might be able to ask nicely for help or clarification.

 This photo was taken about 3 minutes before we had to ask a local for directions to the cliff walk in Howth, Ireland.

All in all, studying abroad is about losing your balance and learning how to create a new balance. I've already noticed a lot of changes in myself in the 8 weeks I've been here, from ditching one of my planners to venturing out on my own. There have been many times where I have struggled with adapting to life abroad, but as the adage always says, what doesn't kill you makes you stronger.

Victoria N. is the Spring 2017 MOJO Blogger in Dublin, Ireland. She is currently a junior studying Commerce & Business at Rhodes College.



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