What they kind of tell you about going abroad.

By Julia Digeronimo, March 1, 2022
The decision to go abroad had been one I made very early. It was kind of a no brainer; it was something I just knew I would always do. But it was a lot easier to say 'yeah, I'm going to study abroad,' then actually studying abroad.

January 5th to Janaury 17th

I am not a calm person. I don't relax easily, I can't go with the flow, and I definitely cannot 'see where life takes me.' Despite my urge to do things out of my comfort zone and experience a crazy life that they talk about in movies, doing new things has never been easy for me. If I don't know the exact outcome of something and how every minute of it will go, the anticipation and anxiety will almost kill me. Almost. I'll work myself up until I'm throwing up and crying and convinced that I won't be able to do it and I should just stay home. And that's just me trying to go to class. 

The decision to go abroad had been one I made very early. It was kind of a no brainer; it was something I just knew I would always do. But it was a lot easier to say 'yeah, I'm going to study abroad,' then actually studying abroad.

 I started to realize that this new adventure may be harder than I thought when I couldn't even choose a country to study in. I don't speak another language, so the options were pretty much endless. It took me an entire summer to pick out an environmental program in Germany and then I soon realized that that was the easy part. Sometimes I could barely open up my program's website without crying because of how overwhelmed I would get. There were so many forms I was expected to fill out and tasks that I needed to get done – and I was all expected to do it on my own. Why couldn't my mom just do it all for me? 

When I finally got to the bottom of the ever-growing pile of abroad forms, my program fell through and I had to do it all over again. More tears and emails and tears and signatures, I was almost at the point where it felt like it wouldn't be worth it. But dramatics aside, I got everything filled out for a second time, and was officially going to Ireland the first week of January. 

That anxiety I talked about in the first paragraph, I was used to it. It was normal for me to dread any upcoming event, especially the major ones. I vividly remember the anxiety nightmares I would have about going to middle school, then high school, then eventually college. As it got closer to the day I was supposed to leave, it started to feel like I was leaving for college again. I didn't want to leave my bed, let alone go to an airport. Packing felt like I was digging my own grave. How could I have been so stupid to think that I could just pack up, leave my cat, and travel across the fucking world to another country where it supposedly rains all of the time. What was I thinking. 

Eventually, January fifth came around. I had all of my bags packed, my obsessive amount of forms printed, and a step-by-step list written out of every single thing I was supposed to do when I got off the plane. 

Notes tab titled: What to do after I land

Pass through immigration 

Go to baggage claim

Go to terminal 1 

Follow signs to taxi queue



V276D Hampstead House 9 Ballymun Road Glasnevin, Dublin 9 D09W6Y4

At 1:30 go to Accommodation office for you

My flight went well. I successfully flew by myself for the first time in my life. It was easier than I expected. Even thought I almost panicked on my way through security, I successfully got myself on the correct plane. Getting myself to my campus also went surprisingly smooth. I went directly to bag check, then to terminal one where I hailed a taxi all on my own. That was the most difficult part of the trip I think. I walked straight up to a taxi and said as strongly as I could "can you take me to DCU?" I think it came out more like, "excuse me, can you take me to DCU right now? Or should I call a taxi or do I have to wait or like can you take me? Like right now?" He only nodded and began to put my bags in his trunk. Ten minutes into my ride, I realized how easy it would have been for that man to kidnap me, but thankfully, he did not. Phew.  

The first two days of living in Ireland were rough. I tend to work myself up over any minor inconvenience, if that wasn't obvious so far. When I got into my room all I wanted to do was lay down and take a nap. But I had no sheets. Or pillows. My bed was bare. That was the first problem that slowly led to more incredibly minor, solvable problems that quickly made me want to go home. I was sitting on my new bed, in my new room, with no one to call because everyone I wanted to talk to was still sleeping, and I hadn't eaten in almost a day. 

To sum up the first two days of my trip, I didn't eat, I took long naps, and I cried more times than I could count. What was I thinking? Why was I in Ireland?

I just kept telling myself, Julia, it has been literally been two days. Take a deep breath, go buy yourself a meal, and things will start to fall into place. And they did! I made my first two friends after I got up the nerve to go buy myself breakfast and from there, things have started to fall into place.

I am now, officially, a week and a half into my trip, and I can confidently say that I am still adjusting. I'm still getting used to taking the bus everywhere and having to walk 30 minutes to class everyday, but like I said, it's getting better. I spent the day with my new friends yesterday and even walked by myself to the botanical gardens and had lunch alone on Saturday! I found an amazing little soup place with the nicest ladies working there. My little meal will be the first picture I add below. 

I keep telling my mom that I am happy to be here because I don't want her to worry. But, I think can confidently say that, yes, I am enjoying myself. I am happy to be here, and happy to be exploring Dublin with some new friends. I am quickly learning that I will have to get comfortable with doing things on my own and planning day trips for myself. And even though I need to have every minor detail planned out before I go and my google maps qued up on my phone, at least I am leaving my room. 

This travel anxiety and difficult adjustment was something my study abroad advisor mentioned in one of her slideshows before we left. I think it was in between her financial slide and 'how to be a good American' slide. The title mentioned something about having difficulty adjusting to a new place, but that it would eventually be okay. Well, here is everything that my advisor forgot to mention. But I guess she was right, it would eventually get better. 

Check out Julia's Blog for more posts, photos and stories from her adventures abroad.