From Indecision to Ireland: Why I Chose to Study Abroad in Dublin

Jan 30, 2019 11:49:00 AM / by Emma Aulenback

Where in the world should you go? In her first post, Emma walks us through her study abroad dilemmas and how she eventually selected a city and program that aligned with her degree and interests. She's thrilled about making her way to Dublin and shares how her family, friends, and advisors, as well as a four-leaf clover, nudged her toward her decision!  

Where we’re going, we don’t need luck!

In the soundtrack to my life, “Should I Stay or Should I Go” sums up my fall semester perfectly, as my journey to study abroad was no walk in the park! No, no, no, not one bit! Indeed, I was very lost in the park with no compass to make clear which path I should take and no map to answer my burning question: “Where should I study abroad?!"

I was searching all over the globe for a program that would satisfy my academic requirements, financial needs, and personal desires! I met with several advisors, made spreadsheets, and had weekly conference calls with friends and family to poll opinions. For most of the semester, I had several applications started in various different programs.

Travel cardInspiring travel and adventure!

There were moments throughout the process in which I was so overwhelmed by my options, and worried that I would choose the wrong place, that I considered not going at all. I wondered if my indecisiveness meant that I was not cut out for a study abroad program in general, and that my worries about where to go, were really a question of whether I should go? Would I be able to move away for so long? To a big city? All alone?

A four-leaf cloverIreland is beckoning me to study abroad.

Thankfully, the peer advisors at my school reassured me that there is no one “type” of student that goes abroad! After all, the point of going abroad is to learn exactly this: there are so many different types of people in our world! Everyone is capable of this challenging, yet incredibly rewarding opportunity—you just have to trust yourself and take it! While this decision to go abroad comes with great feelings of nervousness and a little self-doubt, I am glad to be on any path at all. I found that there is not much to see, and little to do at the crossroads of contemplation. In fact, this is where one comes to watch life pass them by, in the company of regret.

A four-leaf clover from my backyardI found a four-leaf clover in my backyard. A hint for me to study abroad? I think so!

I ended up choosing the path (a non-metaphorical direct flight, really) to Ireland because I did not want a difference in language to bar me from fully participating in activities around the city! As a sociology major, I have boundless curiosity regarding how circumstance can influence one’s values, beliefs, and understandings about the world. Culture is rooted in these very differences, and make this world worthy of exploration. As someone who loves to talk, conversing with the locals will allow me to do just that. I am a sucker for a good story—and I hear that the Irish have a way with words!

Ireland has been beckoning me ever since I found a four-leaf clover in my backyard—if that is not a hint from destiny, I don’t know what is! Plus, I reason if I ever find myself in a dance-off, I have eight years of Irish Step in my back pocket.

CAPAStudyAbroad_Spring2019_CAPA Dublin_Emma Aulenback_airportGoodbye before I leave for Dublin.

I thought about signing this off with an Irish goodbye (as in no goodbye), but I am still sitting on a tarmac in the US, so I cannot use the assimilation card just yet! So, goodbye!! Thanks to everyone in my life back home (my family, friends, and school advisors) who made it incredibly hard to leave! Especially you, Grandma Best; born on St. Patrick’s Day and not a lick Irish! I will be sure to let the world know just how lucky they are to have you in it!

Thanks, Emma!

Emma Aulenback


Emma Aulenback is an official CAPA blogger for spring 2019, sharing her story in weekly posts on CAPA World. A Sociology major at University of Massachusetts, Amherst, she is studying abroad in Dublin this semester.

Emma's journey continues all semester so stay tuned.

Learn More about the CAPA Dublin Program

Topics: Dublin, Ireland, Predeparture & Study Abroad Preparations