Rebecca LeBoeuf in Galway, Ireland. (image credit: Stephanie Anderson)

I have never been more thankful on Thanksgiving than I am this year, and I am almost 3,000 miles away from home, in a country that doesn’t celebrate it.

Spending an entire semester immersed in another country is something that not many people can say they have done, and I am eternally grateful for SNHU’s financially accessible study abroad program and the continuous support provided by Scott Snyder and Stefano Parenti in the Study Abroad Office.

The University of Limerick, Ireland, feels so “homey” and proved to be very accommodating as I adjusted to life away from home and even now, with the impending life away from here. Today they even offered a free Thanksgiving Dinner to all study abroad students who missed home on this holiday.

I’m thankful not only for my access to education at home, but for my ability to access education in a foreign country as well. Not everyone is fortunate enough to attend a university, let alone two. Education gives us the power to expand our minds and prepare ourselves for a world of opportunities, and I realized that my education does not have to stop when my formal schooling stops in May. Every day I spend here, I realize just how much I still don’t know about the world.

Outside of Ireland, I have had the opportunity to travel to four countries so far this semester with three other trips planned. Each time I set foot in a different country, I feel the world get bigger and bigger. There are so many cultures out there, as well as food, art, languages and much, much more. This is incredible. We have so much to learn from one another, and I am thankful that I have been able to participate in a culture exchange with the people I have met.

The view from a hill on one of the three Aran Islands in Ireland. (image credit: Rebecca LeBoeuf)

Now that I have seen a portion of Europe, I see the world, including the U.S., with a new pair of glasses. Though I return home in less than a month, I know I will be taking these glasses with me and carrying them forever.

Study abroad has also brought forth tremendous personal growth. It forced me to become more independent, figuring out my way around an unfamiliar place far away from my family. I have become more social, and I have discovered how much I actually enjoy meeting new people. Overall, I have become a more confident person because of my time in Ireland.

Living abroad has been a dream. It’s been great to travel and rediscover that this world is filled with more good than bad. To meet people from far and wide and be able to call them ‘friend.’ To try new things and to make unforgettable memories.

And I owe everything to the support I have back home; the people I could not be with on the day designated to spend with loved ones. I could not have pushed myself out of my comfort zone to come here without all their encouragement. If it had not been for them, I would not be the person I am becoming here, abroad.

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