No Regrets This Time: A Study Abroad Photo Essay

Studying abroad is a once in a lifetime experience, but for me it has been a twice in a lifetime experience. When I began contemplating whether I wanted to go on another trip, especially to a country I had just been to last year, I had a few good reasons as to why I shouldn’t. Too expensive, too much of a hassle, too close to the end of the spring semester, and most of all – two times studying abroad is just too much.

But when I began to reflect on my previous experience, I remembered that while I absolutely loved every minute of it all, I did feel that I had a few loose ends that needed tying up. Last year, everything was new. It was my first time traveling by myself, first time on a plane, first time being in another country. I went not knowing what I would see, taste, smell, or experience. Because of that, I was careful and cautious the whole way through. I was frugal with my time, my money, my fun.

For instance, when we went to Killarney, we had the option to take a ride in one of the city’s famous jaunty car rides. I did not participate because I wasn’t interested nor did I want to spend the money. It wasn’t until months later watching a travel program on Ireland that it hit me, “I should have taken that horse ride!” So, when I decided that I would go on this trip, I vowed this time, “no regrets.”

From the moment we arrived in Ireland, I made sure that I did not miss out on anything and that I exceeded my personal expectations. I participated in Sneem’s JFK 50 Mile Walk and persevered for 12 miles. I rode a horse on the beach and trotted by myself not once, but twice. I even went out a few nights and danced a little…okay, a lot.

However, it wasn’t until I got home from this trip that I realized I did something even more significant than walking, riding, and dancing. As I was looking over pictures from the day I visited the Cliffs of Moher last year, I noticed that I only went so far up and stopped about half way to the top. When I went this time, I did not even hesitate to trek up to where the most majestic view was. I even sat down for a while and took the whole scene in. In this, I exceeded an expectation I did not know I had – pushing past my fear and insecurities to behold something in its full richness and glory. Knowing this has left an impression me I do not think will fade any time soon.

Reflecting on my first study abroad experience, I realize now that it mimicked how I am in my own life – playing it safe, never taking chances. Maybe, hopefully, this second time around will be the start of the second part of my own life, climbing higher than I did before, going further than I thought I could.

Photo One: Me riding Murphy the horse. (Photo Credit: Kelsey Healey). Photo Two: Me and Maggie Fantaski, a fellow student on the trip. (Photo Credit: Gary Horstmann). Photo Three: Me at The Cliffs of Moher. (Photo Credit: Allison Ranieri). Photo Four: The Cliffs of Moher. Photo Five: Me walking in the JFK 50 Mile Walk.(Photo Credit: Dr. Laurie McMillan/Marywood Uni.).


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