Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Safety

The health and safety of students abroad is ISA’s priority. As a participant on an ISA program, students are required to adhere to COVID-19 mitigations measures and guidelines laid out by ISA, their host country governments, local authorities, and host universities. ISA also reminds students of their personal responsibilities to their program, ISA resident staff, fellow classmates, host university, and their host country to take steps to mitigate risks associated with COVID-19.

The pandemic is nothing new to us as we approach the one-year mark of when our lives suddenly and drastically changed. I still remember: it happened right after Spring Break, and my university started sending students home and announced online learning. Despite the restrictions and rules existing for a year, there are still struggles and challenges when it comes to studying abroad during this time. You will meet people who do not have the same viewpoints as you do in regards to the pandemic and will carry on with their lives as if nothing has changed for them – and nobody is stopping them.

I, for one, believe in following the restrictions and guidelines; my social interactions have involved meeting up with a friend outside my apartment for walks or to grab a coffee. It’s the people who go beyond that and make it harder for the levels to go down. There are students who will party in large groups, who will have their apartment full of people, and who will try and go head to head with the local gardai (Ireland’s National Police). There have been incidents within the past two weeks of students around Ireland who have been caught breaking guidelines, and within the International Students chat I am apart of, there has been a large debate over student conduct. Some students believe we should be striving to follow the rules and avoid partying so we can lower the restrictions, then there are some who believe its “everyone has a right to do what they please.”

This brings me to my title “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Safety.” A play on words from my American background on the famous saying, “Life, Liberty & the Pursuit of Happiness.” When studying abroad during a pandemic, there are some things you need to take in account and remember. I’m hoping by me telling you these things, that it will set forth a strong and humble mindset for when you depart to study somewhere else.

Remember: This is not your Country
Seems easy enough, but some people take this statement for granted. When you are in someone else’s country, you must respect it. Think about the tourists you have seen visiting your country or how you would like to see tourists treat your country when they visit. You want them to be respectful and follow the rules. Well, that’s what you have to do when moving to another country. You have to read about the laws and guidelines and make sure you try to follow them. Being here in Ireland has taught me how to respect another person and culture. I have witnessed Americans not respecting other country’s cultures and rules during my prior travels, and as someone who has a mother with a history degree and taught me how to respect other cultures- it’s hard to witness.

I take that saying with me, “”Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness”, as I am tempted to go out and meet new people, but I stay behind in my apartment to try and avoid mixing with too many people. I have the right to pursue what makes me happy, but if it destroys or gets in the way of somebody else’s, that’s when I need to step back. If I follow what other people are doing and ignore the rules, I am hurting Irish citizen’s right to life, liberty, and pursuit of their own happiness because it forces them to stay in a lockdown where they cannot do much. I have to exercise patience and tell myself sometimes that it’s okay if I can only do a certain amount right now because of the pandemic. I rather try my best to respect where I am than be someone who the Irish look at and frown upon. I am representing myself, my family, my school, and my country – I do not want to disappoint.

Emily Barylske is a student at Mckendree University and an ISA Featured Blogger. She is studying abroad with ISA in Limerick, Ireland.

The world awaits…discover it.

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