How a Semester Abroad Taught Me to Embrace Change

Jan 9, 2020 9:12:00 AM / by Ellie LaFountain

In Dublin blogger Ellie’s final CAPA World blog, she reflects on her time abroad, the personal growth she experienced while in Ireland, and the transition back to the US.

Hello everyone and welcome to my final blog!  It’s crazy to think that this semester and my time as a blogger is coming to an end.  It feels like just yesterday that I was writing my pre-departure blog that discussed what I was nervous about and how I had come to the decision to take a risk and study abroad.  In today’s blog, I will be reflecting on my experiences abroad, coming home, and my future!

I had been told by many family members and friends that had studied abroad in the past that the transition from a different culture back to the U.S could be difficult, but I didn't really understand it until I went through it. As you might have read in my latest blog, I had some minor frustrations when studying abroad, but nothing that ever made me second guess my decision to spend a semester in Ireland. This fact that I really had very little issues or struggles when abroad really made me not want to go home! I was so happy with finally feeling as though I had fit in with the culture and I felt as though I was just getting the hang of traveling within Ireland and around other countries. With two weeks left to my time in Ireland, I began to stress out as I felt like I had no time left.

CAPAStudyAbroad_Fall 2019_Dublin_Ellie LaFountain_CrokeParkIt’s hard to believe that this picture was taken during my first week in Dublin.  Oh how much I have learned since then!

I will say that while I was not alone in feeling this way, there were also a lot of people in my program who did feel a sense of readiness to go home. I think that everyone experiences change differently, and there were many instances over my time abroad where I would talk to people who were quite excited to be back in the U.S for many reasons. With just a few days remaining in our program, I also began to get excited about some things, but the most exciting thing for me was to get back to my home gym to train for gymnastics season. As you might know, I am a collegiate gymnast for Ursinus College, and spending a semester abroad meant spending a preseason away from my team. Missing a preseason has been unheard of on my team since me, so I knew that the second I got back to the United States that I needed to get to a gym and start my training. I am lucky to have great coaches that are willing to help me through my injuries and setbacks.

CAPAStudyAbroad_Fall 2019_Dublin_Ellie LaFountain_GymnasticsI was lucky enough to be able to find a gymnastics center to train at a few times while abroad. This helped me to feel connected with gymnastics even though I was not with my team this semester. I got to train a bit while abroad in both Dublin and Paris! Training internationally was an experience that I will never forget. 

Since I have had such a strict training regimen since being back in the U.S, training for about 7 hours a day, I have not yet felt the reverse culture shock that I expected in my everyday life.  I have definitely had moments where I look the wrong way on the street, forget that swearing is not as accepted here, and miss the ease of getting around a city without having to drive and parallel park. In other news, while I was abroad my parents sold both our house and my car, so I came back to a completely different home life. In fact, I came back to a home that is over an hour away from my old house, friends, and gymnastics club! This at first was very hard for me to deal with, as I had gone from living in one foreign country to what seemed like another one. Although it still feels like I am living my life out of a suitcase, I honestly think all these changes in my life have helped prepare me even more for my future. This process has helped me to realize how much change I am capable of embracing and making the best of.

CAPAStudyAbroad_Fall 2019_Dublin_Ellie LaFountain_ThankfulI am walking away from this experience having learned so much. I could not be more thankful for study abroad.

Thanks, Ellie!

Ellie LaFountain


Ellie LaFountain is an official CAPA blogger for fall 2019, sharing her story in frequent posts on CAPA World. A Media & Communications major at Ursinus College, she is studying abroad in Dublin this semester.

Ellie's journey continues all semester so stay tuned.

Learn More about the CAPA Dublin Program

Topics: Dublin, Ireland, Why Study Abroad