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Derry Diaries: My New Perspective on Study Abroad

“Study abroad, it will change your life!” “I visited 12 countries in 4 months!” “You’ll regret it if you don’t do it!” “Now’s the time to travel, you’ll never get this chance again!”

The number of times these exact phrases were said to me is, without a doubt, in the thousands. When coming to Temple University, studying abroad was never really in my plans. I loved Philly and Temple so much I wanted to spend every second I could in the city and on campus. But, when I officially started school and heard everybody raving about how amazing study abroad was, I figured I’d ease up a bit and possibly look into a program that would work for me. However, as the years went on and I became more and more active in organizations and internships, I quickly realized leaving the city of brotherly love for a whole semester was not a possibility for me. I started looking into some summer programs but became frustrated when no program fit what I was looking for or simply had bad timing. I was worried I missed my chance by waiting until the summer before my senior year to get serious about it. I felt annoyed, upset and stressed I would miss out on an opportunity beloved by so many.

I was down on myself for a while and had major study abroad FOMO (fear of missing out) especially as more and more of my close friends went on their own adventures and fell in love with the places they visited. I began to accept that studying abroad was not a reality for me, no matter how much I wanted to do it. I was honestly convinced that no programs working for me meant that studying abroad was just not part of my “path.” Then, miraculously, with a week until the summer program application due date, I found a program with perfect timing, interesting course material and near a place near where my family hails from: Derry, Northern Ireland.

I told my best friend about it, as we were in the same boat and wanted to go away together, and we quickly got to work on getting recommendation letters, meeting with advisors and completing the application. My parents were so excited about the program and immediately supported my decision to apply (they were honestly probably happy I would stop groaning about missing out on studying abroad!). After applying to the program a day before the deadline, I heard back within a week: I was accepted and headed to the beautiful and historic Northern Ireland for the summer!

Now, about a week into the program, I am so incredibly happy and grateful I decided to take the jump and embark on this journey. The people in my group are amazing and we all get along so well. My professors are fascinating and full of knowledge. The sights I’ve seen are breathtaking. I’m learning about a town and history I never really knew much about while learning about places my ancestors lived. I’m meeting life-long Derry citizens in pubs and restaurants. I’m hiking through mountains and beaches, and anybody who knows me knows how much I’m getting out of my comfort zone through doing this! After climbing up a steep hill and overlooking the gorgeous views, I may be out of breath, but I feel like I can do anything. And, finally, I’ll be home in time for my 21st birthday and have a month of summer left to work at my shore town ice cream parlor and make some extra cash.

Moral of the story is this: if you really want to study abroad, you will find the perfect program and everything will work out for you. Going away for a whole semester is not the only option, Temple has plenty of programs throughout the summertime from durations of 4 weeks to 3 months. And, if studying abroad is not your college plans, that is totally okay and you should not feel like you’re making a mistake. Life doesn’t end when you finish college, you have all the time in the world to explore the world and travel. Everything always works out the way it is supposed to, so take a deep breath, enjoy the places around you and know your time will come.

This blog post was written by Caitlin Gemmi, Vice President.

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