Reflecting on a year abroad

By Kelly McKee
April 28, 2005

Well it’s been a hell of a ride. I set out this year with a ton of luggage, a brave smile and an open mind. I remember driving into the entrance of Cabrini and literally shaking with adrenaline, excitement, fear and to be honest a little hangover from the flight. That was eight months ago and soon I will be driving out of those same gates; this time with tears in my eyes and fond memories of a year which I will never forget; oh and most likely that hangover.

I find it hard to know where to begin in summing up this year. For those readers who do not know me, I am here on a study abroad program from Northern Ireland and have come to be known as Irish Kel, or that girl with the accent. For those of you that do know me; slainte.

I’m a naturally friendly person so I had expected to quickly make acquaintances, however I never expected to make such good friends as I have done this year. Girls you know who you are and I really couldn’t have wished for better friends than you. We’ve laughed till we cried, we’ve cried till we laughed, we’ve shared, we’ve cared and we’ve partied. If I had just met these few people, this year would have been worth my time, but to top things off I met so many other people at this school who I will never forget. With my habit of wandering into random parties, I was really touched by the genuine accommodation of the students here. So thank you everyone for making this year all the more easier for me.

The only real problem I came up against this year was getting my lazy butt out of bed for classes. For the last two years my classes at home have had optional attendance, so clearly the early morning classes frequently went unattended. I soon came to realize that the non-attendance option didn’t go down quite as well in the United States and to my professors this year; I really did try and make it!

I was told by a previous study-abroad student that getting involved was the way to really enjoy my year here at Cabrini, so I started the year with notions of joining this club, that board and of course several sporting teams. This didn’t quite go to plan when I realized just how busy I was keeping up with classes, partying and traveling. I did however become part of The Loquitur, the international club and helped out at several other Cabrini events which undoubtedly helped shape my year here.

As for the traveling, this was one of the greatest opportunities I probably ever will have to see the great United States. So whenever the opportunity came up to take a trip I grabbed it. And I am so glad I did. I got to see cities such as New York, Boston, Chicago and the memorable “twenty-two hours on a greyhound later,” St. Louis. I partied for Mardi Gras, St. Patrick’s Day and of course got to celebrate a presidential election, a famous World Series and my first Superbowl.

For you readers who live far from home you can empathize with me on how it feels to miss your family, your friends and your neighborhood. Some days here were worse than others but I could always rely on my friends to bring me back to reality. I came over as part of a group of around 100 students, who were placed throughout the United States at colleges similar to Cabrini. These people, most of whom I scarcely knew from back in Northern Ireland, soon became a support network to me when I needed to hear a familiar accent, talk about soap operas or food, and usually beer, that I missed from back home. On this journey together we were devastated to lose a brother from our group. Eugene Morrissey was attending a college in West Virginia and after a tragic skiing accident passed away last month. This blow hit our group extremely hard but our common grief brought us even closer together. As we reflected the one thing that kept coming up was how Morrissey had gone out on a high. The last six months had been spent meeting new friends, experiencing something new everyday, traveling, learning and living life to the fullest. This tragedy made me realize just how grateful I was to have been able to share in this amazing experience and my thanks goes out to Cabrini College for welcoming students such as myself every year.

In a few weeks I will be taking down the pictures of my wall, emptying my drawers and shutting the door in my house for the last time. I don’t think it has really hit me yet that I will never see most of you people again. So let me take this opportunity to wish all the Cabrini family, my professors, my drinking buddies, my girls and my boys all the best for the future. For those of you that I never got to meet I hope you enjoy Cabrini as much as I have done.

The memories I will take back of this year are more than could ever be captured in a photograph or an article such as this. Things like the feeling of the dewy grass on my toes as I crossed the lawn to attend a morning class, the smell of coffee in Jazzman’s as I laughed with a friend, the stolen glances across the cafeteria and the nights spent laughing with my roommate until my stomach ached and tears filled my eyes. To all the seniors graduating and to the alumni, I can’t imagine how it feels to leave after four years, when I have only experienced one and it’s hard. I heard someone quote this once before but right now it makes more sense than ever before, “Those were the days, I’d here my parents say. Cherish these years…each and everyday. The people you’ll meet and the places you’ll go and the hurt once that’s gone is more than you’ll know.”

So Goodbye to Cabrini. I’ve had the time of my life.

Posted to the web by Shane Evans

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Kelly McKee

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