Before arriving in Dublin, Ireland, I had no idea what to expect. I was terrified about flying alone and the immigration process at the airport. I was nervous about coming to a new environment with new people. Most of my anxiety came from not being sure if I would get along with my host family or employer. I also didn’t know if I would make friends easily. I kept thinking about how lonely it would be alone in a foreign place. I was also struggling with the fact that I did not know how my body would react to being in a new atmosphere. I have an autoimmune disorder, Rheumatoid Arthritis. It affects my joints and causes severe pain when it is not under control. Weather and stress often have a big affect on my body and cause me to have flareups. When I get a flareup, it is hard to move and function normally. I did not want to have to deal with this on top of adjusting to a new place and new people, nor did I want to have to call out of work frequently because I wouldn’t be able to make it in.
As soon as I arrived, I felt at peace. Immigration was a breeze and when I met up with my study abroad coordinator, she really helped me calm down. My first experience was with an Irish cab driver. He was funny and helpful. He told me all the best sites to visit and gave me the number of his friend, who was a tour guide in the area. As soon as I walked into the house of my host family I was put to ease. My room was amazing and I had my own bathroom. Me and my host sister are similar in age and get along very well. They helped me find my way to the train station and helped me determine the best routes to travel to get to work. I always have my meals prepared for me, which is extremely helpful given I don’t always have the time to prepare lunch for myself. I have access to stores, television, and food whenever I need or want them. My boss at work is so outgoing. He took me under his wing as soon as I arrived on day one. He prepared a list of tasks he wanted me to complete and showed me how to do them. The work environment is very laid back and friendly. Everyone I have met has been incredible and helpful. They ride with me on buses when I don’t know where I’m going and they buy my meal if they decide to take me out for lunch. All in all, this first week had been amazing and I cannot wait to see what I experience this coming week.