Wherever you go and whatever you do, may the luck of the Irish be there with you.
Before I left home, my cousin handed me a hundred dollar bill and said, "You better go somewhere with that."
As luck would have it, my friend, Anna, lives in Dublin and had invited me to come spend St. Patrick's Day with her and her family.
From the moment my plane landed, I felt at home in Ireland.
Entirely different than those of Paris, the streets of Dublin were filled with kind strangers and cheerful voices. Several times, strangers approached me to ask what part of Ireland I was from and were quick to buy me a Guinness when I revealed that I was American.
Exploring Dublin with Anna was interesting because I was able to meet locals and visit parts of the city that I wouldn't have otherwise. I quickly learned that the Irish do not stray away from striking up conversation with the strangers sitting next to them at the bar, and I met some great people.
We also went to a charity rugby match between retired Irish and English players. Never having watched the sport before, I was excited to be in a rowdy crowd that, as Anna's mom described them, were there for the beer and the chance to boo England more than anything else.
I've already booked another trip to Ireland in May, and I am excited to see some of the western coast!
It was around 2 a.m. in Bruges, Belgium, when one student wobbled over to me, a coin in her hand, which she held out in front of her, and said, "Put this penny in your shoe and you'll have good luck."
The 'lucky penny' seems to have cast the opposite effect on my life.
After an early-morning Uber charge to my debit card last weekend, my bank blocked my card, which I had the pleasure of discovering as I attempted to pay for lunch at a nearby café.
After begging my friends for cash for a few days, I was finally able to contact my bank and get everything figured out, only to get a call from home a week later, letting me know that my bank is closing, rendering the same card useless.
With a new card on its way to Europe, I packed my bags for a weekend excursion to Belgium with my program.
Filled with chocolate, waffles and history (and beer, sorry), the trip was far too short.
Continuing my streak of good fortune, my phone stopped working. As I am headed to Dublin for Saint Patrick's Day on Wednesday, I hurried into a nearby Apple store for help, where I was fortunate to get everything sorted out, but I lost everything on my device.
As I am not one to let life get me down, I'm looking forward to what the rest of the week holds, and I am excited to explore Ireland!
Most students who spend a semester abroad bombard their friends' social media timelines with photos of beautiful foreign lands, attractions and foods.
Behind those photos and travel stories, however, is a considerable amount of work, which is surprising to a lot of people.
Now into my fourth week of classes, the workload of my courses has been surprisingly more difficult than I had initially expected, but it is allowing me to quickly develop my conversational French abilities through various cultural lessons.
Because most of my courses only meet once a week, it's easy to push off the work, meaning that my Sunday afternoons are spent flipping through textbooks and writing about French culture.
Though I expected to do some real work during my time in Paris, I would be lying if I said that I didn't feel like I was missing out on a great adventure every time I sit down to work on my assignments, but cozy cafés help to ease the pain.
It was during family dinner with my host parents that I had my first true communication breakdown since arriving in Paris three weeks ago.
After a conversation about the difficulties of making it to early morning classes in the city, I explained to my host parents and roommate that I'm no stranger to early mornings, as work days at the Cape Eleuthera Island School last summer began at 7AM and I've taken multiple 8AM courses at Iowa State.
My host parents, Marie Christine and Robert, are two of the smartest and well-read people that I've ever met, so they were quick to start asking me about my time at the Island School.
I was happy to use some of my maritime vocabulary to talk about my experiences as an intern, but it was as I began a story about tagging stingrays that I realised I had run out of French.
Frantically waving my arms about and desperately trying to explain what I was talking about, I realised that this would be my first true failure in communicating with someone else during my time in France.
Eventually, I described a stingray as something along the lines of "a pancake-like fish with a dangerous sword," and my host parents, who know very little English, finally seemed to understand.
Though this was my first failure, I'm confident that it will not be my last.