John is an Ambassador who studied abroad in Galway
Why did you choose to study abroad and how did you decide on this program?
I actually had no idea I wanted to study abroad until Fall of 2011. I was deciding programs and got denied out of the London program and Ireland was my second choice. I liked their English speaking. I had always wanted to go to the country and the classes seemed to work out for me. Studying abroad became really important to me because I started to feel like I needed to get more experience out of college and it helped me get out of this bored rut that I was in.
Briefly describe a specific cultural experience you had on your trip that made a lasting impression.
The greatest culture experience I had on the trip had to be our trip to the Aran Islands. They are so remote and so beautiful. They are filled with amazing people who only speak Gaelic and it is a community out there. It is not just a visitor hotspot, it is a place of communal strength and religion. The site is filled with monasteries looking out over the ocean along its cliffs.
Describe your overall study abroad experience.
My overall study abroad experience was amazing. It is a whole new style of learning and discovery. It was so different from having a 5 day week when every Thursday we travel to a new part of the country and see all sorts of things till Sunday. 3 hour lectures about something nobody has any familiarity with was quite interesting too. I was surrounded by people that I enjoyed and I got to be a part of a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Who else can say they spent 4 months in another country like I can? It will be years before I can go back to Ireland, but I am so thankful for doing this.
Based on your experiences abroad, what are some of the benefits of spending a semester abroad? How has studying abroad contributed to your personal, academic, and professional development?
The benefits to spending a semester abroad are numerous. Academically, you learn to adapt to new teaching and learning environments and you get to experience a new culture. Your professional development grows much larger. I toned up my cultural communication skills, I was exposed to new ideas and philosophies, and I got used to economic standards in other countries through their business. Personally, I challenged myself to step outside of my comfort zone. I got to see the most amazing things, and as said before it is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I gained so much independence and self-confidence. I also learned my personal strengths and weaknesses.
What advice can you offer for CSB/SJU students who are considering or planning to study abroad?
My best advice is to push yourself to try new things and work extremely hard to get out of your comfort zone because the trip won't be a success if you are not trying new things.
Do you have questions about studying abroad in Galway? Email John at firstname.lastname@example.org