Mark is an Ambassador who studied abroad in Galway
Why did you choose to study abroad and how did you decide on this program?
I had the opportunity to travel to Europe while still in high school and had a wonderful experience there. When I left I made the decision that I wanted to return and see more of it. The reason behind choosing Ireland out of all of the wonderful programs the CSB/SJU offers was that it is the place where my ancestors originated from and I wanted to explore some of my cultural heritage firsthand. I specifically chose the Galway-Spiddal program for many of the same reasons I chose to come to St. John's. The program is located on the outskirts of Galway City, closer to the town of Spiddal, which gives it a more personal feel and presents a beautifully scenic area. The classes offered in the program also were a plus for me as they helped me meet some of my requirements for my English major.
Briefly describe a specific cultural experience you had on your trip that made a lasting impression.
During our fall break I, unlike many of my friends stayed in Ireland to explore parts that I knew I would not see with the group, in particular the spiritual pilgrimage site of Croagh Patrick. Croagh Patrick is a mountain that people climb to the top of while praying and going through stations. I did not do the stations but once at the top I set a moment aside to reflect on everything that had happened to me so far on my journey, which included the wonderful B&B I had stayed at the previous night. The woman who owned it actually took better care and was more hospitable to me that I would have ever imagined possible. She even drove my friends and I to the trail head of the mountain and packed lunches for us!
Describe your overall study abroad experience.
The experience that I had abroad in Ireland cannot be matched by anything else that I've done thus far in my life. I was able to form meaningful relationships with my fellow students, my Irish professors, & our hosts at the Park Lodge Hotel. I've been all over Ireland, north, south, east, and west, and have been able to see how their culture is able to change drastically from county to county and city to city in the same country. One of the most important things that my time in Ireland gave was an enjoyable time; because all of my experiences there I had the time of my life.
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?
This trip game me the benefit of going to the next step of living on my own by cooking all of my own meals, buying groceries, and having classes and a experiential learning project to work on as well. It gave a more independent lifestyle to me. It also helped me academically with my English major by learning more about the great Irish writers like Yeats and Joyce.
What advice can you offer for CSB/SJU students who are considering or planning to study abroad?
Just Do It. If you follow the simple sage advice of Nike, any and all students will have an amazing experience. If you see something you want to do, research it, get there, and just do it.
Do you have questions about studying abroad in Galway? Email Mark at Mtsteingraeber@csbsju.edu