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Jessica: Home and lessons learned

June 20, 2011

So… I guess I’m back!

When people ask me, “How was Ireland?” what can I really say?? I’ve been trying to come up with a sentence to sum it up, because from my last study abroad or any trip I’ve taken, people will ask and tune out 2 sentences in since, frankly, it’s hard to understand. It’s not a sad thing to realize, but there’s no way to truly capture the experience.

I saw beautiful things, sad things; I was exhausted and energized; I met some of the most amazing people, and I learned a LOT. Not just the things like Irish history, but of leadership–that vague term that people throw around without truly knowing what it means.

My basic lessons are these takeaways, outside of technical information:

  • Value of one, power of all: we all matter, and I am continually shaped by every individual I come across. Every story you hear, every person you spend any amount of time with, impacts you somehow–and it should. I’ve written in my journal the lessons I’ve learned from others, something that Emily Smith once told me to do. And there were people we met who simply stepped up and did what they thought needed to be done–and moved mountains by doing so.
  • Listen listen listen: why do we keep relearning this lesson? Because we still mess it up. I would like to get better at not always needing to chime in, just to sit, pause, and absorb before I have to open my big mouth
  • People will surprise you: What happens when you force 25 people to hang out for nearly a month? You give those people who you judge upon first meeting a second, third, fourth chance. You are exposed to them in multiple different situations till you realize, “Wow, I actually really enjoy you, and I had a bad first impression.” It’s humbling and makes you feel like an ass–so the lesson here is keep your judgments to yourself (avoid that mob mentality, dudes) and then be open to them changing.
  • On that note, avoid poisoning the well. We started expressing our displeasure with certain situations or people and that is TOXIC. If you can’t just stand up to change it, at least don’t perpetuate it to the best of your ability–because we all need to vent.
I already miss having my roommates around, and it’s weird being fully in control of my life’s schedule again… Again, what I’d like to take home with me is letting go a little bit of overscheduling myself as well as just going out to enjoy life: do MY to do list. As Kelsey says, I spend too much time doing things for others, not for myself. This trip reminds me that we all have our OWN to do list we want to accomplish–I will work on not forgetting it.
In the meantime I will definitely enjoy half and half in my coffee, abundance of public restrooms and the friends I came home to.
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