Shanell Peterson is an official CAPA blogger for summer 2016, sharing her story in weekly posts on CAPA World. A journalism major South Dakota State University, she is studying abroad in Dublin this term.
In her first post, Shanell shares some of the worries she has about departing for Ireland and how she's reducing them.
In three days, I will embark on a life-altering, crazy-fun, seven-week adventure to Dublin, Ireland. And I have barely started packing yet.
Between working long days to save up spending money for this trip and my indecisiveness about what to bring to Europe, packing has been a slightly difficult feat for me. In addition to that, I have some other worries that are on my mind.
Photo: I wrote this list when I was in elementary school. I can’t tell you how excited I am to cross off number five on my list!
Get ready. I’m about to get brutally honest with you.
1. MAKING FRIENDS. I am not an introvert. I am an extrovert with social anxiety.
I know. It’s a funny concept. You can laugh! But being this way does cause me some issues. How can I feed my love of people if I’m scared to interact with them? To get the most out of my abroad experience, I’ll have to push myself when I’m in Ireland.
I’ll start with baby-steps to make sure I don’t get too overwhelmed. I’ll talk to someone new in class. I’ll go have dinner with my roommate. I vow to push myself out of my comfort zone until socializing becomes natural and easy.
2. MONEY. How much money do I need if I want to indulge in every opportunity that comes my way? Probably more than what I have in my bank account. In the coming days, I will be constructing a flexible budget for myself. CAPA has been good with sending me valuable information about how to do this. I am not sure how well it will work, but I will feel good trying.
3. HAVING THE CORRECT INTERNSHIP EXPERIENCE. CAPA does a great job with connecting their students to amazing internships. I am very excited about my placement. However, what if I find out that I don’t like what I’m doing? This would be great information to have once I’m in the real world but doesn’t do me much good while I’m there.
The way I see it, no matter how I feel about the work I will be doing, I will have a fantastic internship experience. I will learn valuable skills that could apply to any job I chose to have in the future. And, if worst comes to worst and I absolutely despise my internship (which I am very, very confident won’t happen), I only have to be there for two months. Two months is a very short amount of time.
4. LEAVING MY BOYFRIEND. Although I don’t want to admit it, I am a little worried about leaving my boyfriend. We’ve never been apart for so long. Will our relationship withstand the distance? Will being in Ireland be so enlightening that my values will change and, thus, render our relationship incompatible? Or, at the very least, how will I cope with missing him so badly? This trip will be a test, and—despite my worries—I think it will be good for us. After all, if we can’t grow as individuals, we shouldn’t grow as a couple anyway.
Photo: My boyfriend and I have been on a lot of adventures together like this one in New York. This will be my first major adventure without him since we started dating a year and a half ago.
5. STAYING SAFE. The Irish are known for being the friendliest in the world. Ireland has the lowest crime rates in Western Europe. And there is no language barrier; everyone speaks English. Yet, I am still worried about staying safe. What if someone steals my passport or all my money?
I have taken a few steps to combat this worry. First, I try to remember that a small amount of skepticism is healthy. Being wary will ensure that I stay vigilant.
Secondly, I will be sure to keep my valuables in various places. No one can pickpocket all your belongings if you don’t keep all your belongings in one location! I will be storing some emergency cash and a copy of my passport in a waist money belt that I plan on wearing a large majority of my trip. I can’t keep myself out of all bad situations, but I can be prepared for when one does happen.
6. STAYING FIT. There are two things that I will be sure to consume while in Ireland—meat-and-potatoes-heavy meals and Guinness. And while this sounds like a tasty diet, it doesn’t necessarily constitute a healthy one. How will I stay fit in Ireland? It would be nice to take early morning runs around Dublin, but will I feel comfortable enough doing that? Additionally, I barely have motivation to workout in the comfort of my hometown now. Will I want to exhort the energy when I’m across the ocean?
Photo: My bear, Chloe, is all packed and ready for Ireland! It’s too bad she won’t fit in my luggage.
I suppose I’ll just have to see what happens when I get to Ireland. Perhaps there is an affordable gym I’ll be comfortable using. Perhaps I’ll find a friend that wants to go on runs around the city. I’ll keep my eyes and ears open for these opportunities.
As you can see, I have a lot of worries about going to Ireland this summer. In fact, there are a few more that I didn’t even touch on. (Will I see everything I want to see? Will any of my luggage break?) But I want you to know that these worries are nothing when I compare them to my thirst for travel. Discomfort is where growth is, and I am excited to see how this trip changes me.
Shanell's journey continues every Thursday so stay tuned.