What My Semester Abroad Taught Me Which The Traditional School System Couldn’t

I was on my semester abroad in Ireland 7 years ago. One of my goals when I was a teenager was to live abroad for a few months.

I was in Ireland for 4 months and I lived in the beautiful old city called Waterford. I didn’t know what to expect. I traveled alone for the first time, I was on my own for the first time in a country I’ve never been to.

It’s a challenge. I was nervous but not going on a semester abroad was never an option. If I make a decision and if it’s a goal of mine, then I will do it. Always. I count that as one of my strengths. I don’t quit so easily if I want something really bad.

I didn’t do this semester to learn something new or to have new interesting lectures. I did this to explore new cultures and to travel. And not only did I learn about Ireland and Ireland’s culture, I found friends from all around the world. Mexico, China, France, Belgium, Brazil,…

Cultural Exchange

Why do you travel? I travel to get to know other cultures, new people and to try out new things.

The one thing that stuck in my head from my semester aboard: we are all the same.

When you don’t travel, the only things you hear from other countries are in the news about shootings, earthquakes, political problems…

I met the people behind those countries. My friends from Mexico have the same problems, life goals and values. Even if we wouldn’t, we are all human, so we are the same.

I have a boyfriend, she has a boyfriend. Same problems and challenges.

We love the same thing: CHOCOLATE!

Try New Things

One thing I loved to do while going shopping in Ireland: find some sweet stuff I don’t know and try it.

We also were cooking a lot from our home countries and tried it out.

Life starts at the end of your comfort zone. By going out of your comfort zone you will improve and you will learn new things and try new things.

Moving to Ireland for 4 months alone, without knowing anyone there was at the end of my comfort zone. But I knew I needed to do that to go out and improve, to get away from my own beliefs and restrictions in my home country.

You can do everything you want if you really want it

I’m an ambitious person. So if I want something, I will probably do it and go through with it 100%.

I knew long before that I wanted to do a semester abroad, and filling out forms and meeting with the head of my studies and the international office didn’t keep me from going. Of course I was afraid to be alone in a country I’ve never been to. But my ambition made me do it anywhere.

I knew I didn’t want to get stuck at home. I wanted to experience the world and new cultures. And that’s what I did.

“Once a year go someplace you’ve never been before.”

— Dalai Lama

I met a lot of new people in the first week I was there, and we are friends since then.

If the thing you want to do isn’t out of your physical reach, then you can do everything you want to do.

You want to travel the world? Do it. Start the planning or just go for it.

You want to get the job of your dreams? Just go for it. Research what you need to know, prepare yourself.

You want to open an online business? Just go for it. Start with taking courses, or doing research. Start your website or your writing here.

Go for it. The worst thing that could happen is that you fail, but that’s gonna happen at some point anyway and you will learn the most out of failures and then you just stand up and continue!

Prejudices Are Wrong

Traveling and meeting new people and experiencing new cultures will get rid of your prejudices you have from growing up with a TV. You always hear the bad things about countries, cultures and people. But that’s not the reality.

For example American tv series and movies show us that Mexico and the Mexican boarder is dangerous. Drugs, smugglers and dead people are what we see on TV about Mexico. But the country is huge, and of course there are some dangerous places, but in the rest of the country people live a normal life and there are touristic places too.

Mexico is as big as Europe, and we only see the one bad side on TV. Mexico is beautiful, the people are great and passionate. The food is amazing and the culture is really interesting.

And Ireland is not as rainy as you think it is. I had a really beautiful autumn there. The nature is amazing and the people are really friendly. And music is everywhere.


Doing a semester abroad is changing your life. If you have the chance to go abroad in any way, please do it! You will learn important lessons for life.

After I came back and moved to Vienna, I joined an international student organization to give the cultural exchange and experiences I got to as many people as possible. Traveling abroad and experiencing new cultures is resolves prejudices and peace can improve.

Thanks for reading! 🙂

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