Studying abroad in Galway was the best decision I’ve ever made

This article was created for The Travel Project by Natalie L, a 22-year-old girl who's trying her best to live her life with #noregrets.

I was never anyone special - and I was okay with that growing up. I wasn’t valedictorian or the most popular kid in school, but life was alright. Until one lecture showed me that life can be extraordinary...

I was sitting in a lecture one day, and a guest speaker came in. Normally, this would be my time to nap in a position where it looks like I’m paying attention – but this presentation wasn’t some old man talking about his book: it was a girl who was only a few years older than me, explaining all the different adventures she went on during her time studying abroad in Galway, Ireland.

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It took me a while to learn how to pronounce it, but by the time I did I was getting onto a bus from Dublin on my way there. I had so many questions before I left, including: “Aren’t you scared going alone?” and “Your parents are letting you go?”. The truth is, I hadn’t given it much thought. From the first image I saw on that lecture slide, I knew that I would be there one day. I let go of all my fears and all my doubts and decided to do this for myself.

I went to Ireland with no expectations. Not because my motto is “no expectations, no disappointment”, but because I really didn’t know what to expect. I didn’t do research about the top 10 things to do in Ireland, or map out what I where I was going to go during my time there. I simply let life take me where it did.

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I don’t want to be one of those people who are constantly saying “OMG, studying abroad was the best time of my life!” But honestly, it was. I met my best friends there on a spontaneous night out in a grimey club, I ate disgusting foods that I never thought I would (like blood pudding), I saw places that I thought were only in movies, and I learned things about myself that I never thought I would. It wasn’t all perfect and pretty, in fact most of it wasn’t. But I was okay with that.

There’s something magical about moving to a place where no one knows your name or where you’re from. It’s not about hiding anything from your past, it’s about knowing who you are now. 

You get to discover your new hang out spots, make friends who have so many stories you’ve never heard before, and have countless nights out that start innocently but end up being your wildest and most eventful experiences ever. I didn’t travel to find myself, but somehow this trip led me to find myself in travelling.

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Girl Ireland cliff

Travelling has allowed me to understand my life differently. I know now that there is no singular answer to anything. So many things are constantly changing, and it’s impossible to narrow an answer down to what life should be. I’ve wanted to become a teacher my whole life, and part of being an educator is knowing that you never really stop learning.

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People may think that you’re on vacation when you go on a trip, but in actual fact you are bettering yourself. You’re learning new talents, meeting new people, trying new foods, and seeing new places. Travelling has taught me that there is so much beyond the little suburb I grew up in. There is so much beyond what people think of me, what I believe or even want my future to look like, and any mistake I’ve ever made.

The possibilities that life has to offer are endless, and it is simply up to us to decide we are ready to take advantage of them.

My experiences have given me such an appreciation for life, the world, and the truly amazing people within it. I cannot put into words how much my life has truly changed in the past 3 years. I look forward to my future that will be filled with unknown experiences and kind souls. The saying “You never know unless you try” is now a part of who I am, because I will never regret saying yes to this trip. The world is a beautiful big place, and we only have one lifetime to experience it.

Has travel helped you to learn to grab hold of your life with both hands, and break the routine? Share your stories with us here and you could see your work published on six-two…

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