This weekend we celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. I love this holiday. It’s more than a reason to drink beer. It’s more than an occasion to wear a color that makes me look fabulous. It’s more than the one day a year people pretend they always listen to The Dropkick Murphys.
For me, St. Patrick’s Day is a day to recognize the great nation that changed my life. I spent a semester of college studying abroad in Dublin, Ireland. I did a lot in college but I can honestly say going to Ireland had the greatest impact on who I am today. I learned how to embrace my outgoing nature. I gained the confidence to explore new places on my own, and I received the ultimately incurable travel bug bite.
I never would have considered jumping on a cruise ship after school if I hadn’t spent that time in Ireland. In fact, I often find myself trying to explain ship life by making comparisons to the study abroad lifestyle. So as my Day of Irish Reflection approaches, I thought I would share these comparisons with you.
Whether you go to an English speaking country or not, there will be language barriers. In Ireland someone approached me asking, “Where’s the craic?” I’m sorry, what? One of my friends studying in Italy accidentally asked for a fish shot at the bar, instead of a peach shot. Don’t even get me started on my initial reaction when a British friend from ships said, “I’m just taking the piss.” Language barriers are some of the funniest encounters I’ve ever had.
Romantic feelings are at an all time high when you’re in a foreign country, with an exotic partner, and time is fleeting. Everything feels like a scene from the movie. Forget that you two barely understand each other, he works as a part time tour guide, and neither of you has any desire to ever leave your respective home countries. Add in the romantic atmosphere of cruising and these romances are inevitable. It’s easy to lose perspective when there’s a built in expiration date.
Everything is Fleeting and The Concept of Time Changes
Those four-six months of study abroad will be the fastest semester of your life. You’ll swear that nothing will change, and you’ll keep in touch every day. While it is true that my study abroad friends are people I will never forget, I definitely keep in touch everyday. The same is slowly happening with my ship friends. That’s life, folks.
Crazy New Foods
I was super poor when I studied abroad. Like super poor. It was the first time since I was 16 that I couldn’t work, so I had a very strict budget with no income flowing. I spent much of time shopping at Dublin’s finest Lidl shop. Nothing like trying to translate German food labels to make a girl feel like she’s getting proper nutrition. There’s also the buffet of crazy local foods to try when you’re traveling. I first had lamb stew and cider in Ireland. Changed my life. Then on ships I had Russian caviar, Swedish meatballs (ohhhhhhh the Swedish meatballs), Finnish Reindeer, South American meat buckets and Caribbean plantains. And, of course, one can never forget the endless buckets of rice.
You Drink Too Much and Site See Too Little
You’ll never see everything you want to see when studying abroad. There’s never enough time. Ever. The same goes for ships. You can dock in Sydney a dozen times and still not check off everything on your list. You’ll also inevitably spend too much time drinking, and that will impact your site seeing. I can honestly say I was beyond hung over the day we docked in Peru. Sadly, I have never seen Peru.
You Totally Forget the Reason You’re There
Classes? Work? What?
Really though, you don’t study abroad to study. Don’t let them fool you. You study abroad to learn about yourself.
It Changes You Forever
I went to Ireland and came out of my shell. At least I thought I did. Then I did ships and obliterated my shell. I talk about both experiences entirely too much, but that’s just me. Ireland and ships are a part of me – a part I wouldn’t trade for all the Swedish meatballs.