From Ripon to Ireland

Kerstin Johnson stands atop the 700-foot-high Cliffs of Moher, which originally made her feel “as if I were the minutest creature in the entire universe.”

Editor’s note: Kerstin Johnson is a 2008 Ripon High School graduate who is now attending the University of Wisconsin-Stout, where she is majoring in technical communications. For fall semester 2010, she is studying abroad in Ireland at the University of Limerick. This is her account.

Ninety-three days ago, I left the familiarity of my comfort zone.

My mom and youngest sister waved goodbye as I anxiously stumbled through the security checkpoint at the Outagamie County Regional Airport.

All of my belongings (at least for the coming four months) were crammed into a backpack, a small duffle bag, and one suitcase.

This was it. I had come to face the ultimate test of my independence, my adaptability, my motivation, my adulthood.

Three flights and 16 hours later, I stole the first glances of my new home-to-be, Ireland.

Ninety-three days ago, I found myself questioning every aspect of my life.

Who am I? Why am I here?

Between the jet lag and the rush of being in a fresh environment, my memories from my first week on the Emerald Isle were groggy.

I felt my way around, from scoping out the campus to finding an affordable grocery store in Limerick (Aldi won).

I introduced myself to literally everyone: staff, fellow international students, the Student Union president, the bartenders.

Before I knew it, my college classes had begun, and I was adapting quickly.

Read the full story in the Dec. 2, 2010 edition of the Ripon Commonwealth Press.

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