We’ve all seen the social media posts from those we know studying abroad. Instagram pictures telling the stories of relaxing weekends spent sipping Spanish wine in Madrid, jaunting across the Italian coast, spending fall days in Amsterdam, and rainy Saturday nights in Dublin—because when you’re studying abroad nine times out of 10 your grades aren’t going to factor into your GPA at your home university. The classes you take are accepted, but don’t affect your overall performance, so you could average all Cs during your semester or year abroad and still keep that 4.0 you left with. Meaning, you can skip your Friday class to catch that flight to Oktoberfest because you have the leeway in your studies to do so.
In preparing for graduate school in Ireland did I think I would spend my weekends globetrotting Europe? Of course I did. But the step from undergrad to postgrad is a large one no matter what country you decide to earn your degree in. While I could easily choose to spend my weekends wandering across different countries, that isn’t my primary reason for being here and my program demands a dominant chunk of my time outside of lecture.
But what’s that solution to a closed door? Look for a window?
Those who are studying abroad, generally, are only spending a single semester away. Being a postgrad, you’re situated much longer and get the wonderful gift of winter break in-between semesters. So with that, my weekend trips have been limited—provided my course load allows for a day off—to the occasional Saturday day trip; and, to be fair, that’s not a bad gig at all in Ireland. I could spend a lifetime here and still not experience every culture-rich pub and gorgeous view it has to offer.
My fantasies of weekends spent in the Highlands or among Europe’s various canals may have been washed away when I came to terms with the actuality of being a graduate student, but what better way to celebrate a semester well done than with a month's worth of adventure? Sounds like the better deal to me.Add this article to your reading list