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The big wrap up

Posted by on August 15, 2017

This blog post is a bit different than all of my other posts so far. This post contains more than a set “story” of my time here, but rather a collection of thoughts that I have had. Interning abroad has its own challenges. Being a person with a disability (specifically a visual impairment) also has its own challenges. When the two are put together craziness ensues. This often deters many students in my situation from studying abroad, which just breaks my heart. Study abroad is such a valuable experience and everyone should feel empowered to try. I have compiled a list of my top ten tips, tricks, and things I wish I knew/ general advice that I have. First of all, I will sum up the rest of my time in Ireland and discuss my transition back home, and then I will write the list of the top five tips for studying and interning abroad with a visual impairment.
My last week in Ireland was a blast. Audrey and I hiked Croagh Patrick; a mountain in the west of Ireland with a church on the top where St. Patrick pray during his life. The hike was long, steep, and scary, but with the help of amazing friends and a sturdy tick, I lived to tell about it. The rest of my time was fairly uneventful. I complotted my internship by working in finance while I loved the work, my original post college plans are now being questioned as I truly loved working for a smaller company with a family atmosphere. My journey home was quite uneventful and I got home to my family very quickly after my flight. My time home has been spent relaxing, recuperating, and preparing to go back to school. Being back home isn’t super easy- as I now have to depend on someone who drives, but hopefully I will return to city life soon enough. I will now move on to my list.
1. Forget fear- fear is healthy in some circumstances, but when you are abroad with a disability, it must be forgotten. Fear keeps us in our comfort zones, and comfort zones keep us from learning. Had I followed my fear, I would have never taken an afternoon trip alone to see the cathedrals.
2. Take time for yourself- you will have a lot going on all the time, although you will feel like you must live every moment to the fullest, it is important to take time for yourself to reflect and recover. This keeps your mind fresh to enjoy your adventures more fully.
3. Use your tools- tools are made to help you- especially if you have a disability. Whether it be a cane, a magnifier, or other tools made for other disabilities, it is important to use them. People will be more understanding and helpful and this will make you feel better about being in a foreign environment.
4. Talk, talk, talk- talk to other people in your program, talk to locals, talk as much as possible. You never know who you can meet and what connections you can make if you let go of shyness.
5. Enjoy every moment- being abroad is special and an experience you will have forever. Enjoy it to the fullest and make memories you will never forget.
To conclude, I am truly grateful for all of the opportunities I have been given by the Gilman Scholarship and Wofford College. I am grateful to everyone who supported me throughout my time abroad, and although I am sad to have my time abroad be over, I will never forget it and will continue to tell my story as I hope to inspire others to study abroad as well.

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B J Lee
B J Lee
5 years ago

You are an inspiration and hero to so many young adults with disabilities. I love the fact that you stepped up and out to show, by example, that you can be anything you want to be. And by the way, I say kudo’s to you. I can’t wait to meet you. You are my hero too.

B J Lee
B J Lee
5 years ago

Holly, follow the rules you outlined above throughout the next year. Remember, not everyone will love you but for those that do, you are blessed. Hold your head up high, follow your own heart and never ever not believe in yourself! You have personality, poise and endearing personal traits so run with it!!!!

Ashley
5 years ago

Hi Holly, thank you so much for keeping this blog and being willing to share your experiences from your time abroad! Our organization, Mobility International USA, works to increase access and participation for people with disabilities to study abroad on programs like Gilman and more, and it would be great if we could highlight you on our website! Can we connect? Feel free to email me at clearinghouse@miusa.org!