Exchange to Mary Immaculate College, Ireland
Semester 2, 2017
Week five finds me right in the middle of the semester. And although its a busy with assignments, there is such a different air about at this stage in the semester in comparison to this stage in the semester, if I were at home. Responsibilities here are different to that at home; for once I don’t need to be thinking months, if not years ahead, worries about trying to build my resume so I can graduate with the twenty years of experience employers seem to demand nowadays. Instead, I really feel that I can enjoy the present. For once I am not preoccupied by the concerns of the future and can truly savour each experience I have now.
Subjects here are different, I can study almost anything I like, so for the first in a long time I genuinely feel I am taking subjects I enjoy rather than compulsory subjects needed to pass my degree. And not to mention that the subjects offered here are simply ones I could not be offered at home. Being in Ireland has allowed me to exercise a kind of freedom I hadn’t previously had with subjects, and I’m grateful for the opportunities each subject has given me. For example, for one of my politics subjects here, students were taken on an overnight trip to Belfast, and the Stormont in Northern Ireland. Never would I have imagined that I could go to the peak governing building in Northern Ireland and have the opportunity to speak to politicians there. Similarly, for another subject I have had the amazing opportunity to see some phenomenal pieces of theatre and have a hand at critiquing it; something which otherwise would not have been able to fit into my degree. I also appreciate gaining a different perspective from my classes here. Particularly in areas such as politics, understanding the European perspective in depth on global issues or institutions such as the European Union are simply priceless.
Aside from the wonderful academic opportunities, being located in Europe has meant that I’ve had an amazing opportunity to travel to various countries during the semester. Although I had imagined that at some stage in my life I would travel to countries such as Italy and France, I’ve been incredibly fortunate in having some amazing house mates, and together we’ve travelled Iceland and are going to Norway—two countries I probably would not have considered if it weren’t for them.
Exchange has allowed me to exercise great freedom and in many ways creativity. New and different experiences are being offered, and I have a sense of rejuvenation. It’s incredibly energising to study somewhere different and to seize different and mind-opening opportunities.