The joy and growth I experienced on my program is best symbolized by the visceral experience of waking up at 4am to catch a 6:37am Ryanair flight to a place I’ve never been for about €30 round trip. I could write an ode to Ryanair, the ultra-low-cost airline that strikes a perfect balance between barely costing anything and barely landing safely; but, it was not the journeys themselves that struck me. Rather, these early morning trips embodied the potential for connection: connection to people, connection to roots, and connection to myself. I was able to explore Ireland deeply, a gift in and of itself, but I also spent time with new friends and old on a Thanksgiving trip to Madrid, felt the pull of a family past in Germany and France, and discovered that I am more capable than I realized in 6 countries and a 3-and-a-half-month period. I was lucky enough to make friends for life in Dublin and outside it, and together, we learned to be spontaneous, make our own adventures, and feel each place deeply. The confidence this closeness brought about will follow me back to Duke—my excitement to take on new challenges will be matched by my widening understandings of different perspectives. I learned to step into the fear and trust myself in a way that I’d never dared to before. Though I left seeking new experiences, I returned with a global community and a full heart.
Program II, Class of 2023
IFSA: Trinity College Dublin