As I wrap up my first semester of graduate school at University College Dublin, I am reflecting on what it means to be thankful for every gift and opportunity. Internally, I am calling 2017 the year of gratitude. I am grateful and humbled by the support of friends, family, and professors as I continue my adventures in Ireland— this time at a Master’s level.
I’ll admit, moving to a new country (though exciting and wonderful) isn’t always 100% smooth sailing. While I felt at home and comfortable in my favorite city once again, I wrestled (and am contributing to wrestle) with a fairly severe case of imposter syndrome in my academic work. That is, somehow I didn’t initially feel like I measured up to my classmates. Despite working diligently to raise my grades and filling out grad school applications in my fourth year of undergrad, I still didn’t quite feel like I earned a place amongst my classmates, who I immediately found to be much more articulate and knowledgeable than I am.
This fear of inadequacy brought on feelings of loneliness, but I am grateful that this feeling is improving day by day. I am thankful for new friends who brought me out of my shell, and for professors who are encouraging. I am thankful for the chance to improve in my classes, and for therefore for the opportunity to overcome my anxieties. Even though I am trudging through essay season, I am still honored to be here. When I get stressed and feel bombarded, I think it’s important to remind myself why I came here.
I am thankful for second chances. I am thankful that the universe brought me back to Ireland after a tough final year of undergrad. I am thankful that I got a “do-over” for my study abroad experience in Dublin from two years ago. Not that there’s anything I would take back, of course, but I know there is much more for me to experience here. I am thankful for the chance to prove myself amongst people with like-minded interests.
I am thankful to be able to fall in love with my best all over again, now that the gap of long-distance closed once and for all.
I am thankful to have found support from across continents. Whether this support is found in phone calls from old friends, messages to my parents, new friendships here, or support from loved ones in Ireland, I have not once felt completely on my own here. Instead, I know there are people I can count on world-wide.
I am thankful to have found a home in Ireland. This feeling of “home” is solidified by coffee shop owners who know my name and order, loving arms to come home to each day, and the chance to see the sunset from a different part of the world once again.