Megan Flaherty is an Ambassador who studied abroad in Galway.
Why did you choose to study abroad and how did you decide on this program?
I always knew that I wanted to study abroad. Everyone that had gone abroad before me made it sound like the best experience of their lives. Therefore, I decided it was an opportunity that CSB/SJU offered that I could not give up! I have always dreamed of going to Ireland because my family is originally from Ireland, specifically the Galway area, so I began looking into the program. After researching the area and the program details it seemed like the best fit for my needs with its rural setting and group oriented set up. I was also extremely interested in the group excursions that the program offered which allowed for the group to explore so many different areas of Ireland.
Briefly describe a specific cultural experience you had on your trip that made a lasting impression.
There were so many different experiences that it's so hard to pick just one! However, the experience that left a lasting impression on me was definitely traveling up to Northern Ireland. In Derry we visited the museum of Free Derry which memorializes the events of Bloody Sunday in Ireland. It was so moving to learn of the horrible events and then walk the streets to see the many murals painted to honor the victims involved. It was so interesting to see everything and then afterward to see the walls that still keep the Catholics from the Protestants all around the city. Although they have had peace for 14 years they do not co-mingle with each other. It was surreal to see something so fresh and obviously apparent in their society even today.
Describe your overall study abroad experience.
Words do not even begin to describe the experience of studying abroad. There are so many different, wonderfully fantastic things about Ireland and the people that the experience is one that I will remember for the rest of my life. I had a blast being able to travel all over Ireland and Europe for almost four months. As we took classes we were not only able to learn about the country but also able to experience everything first hand as we travelled. Throughout this process our group grew as a family. You are able to build so many friendships while abroad because they are right beside you every step of the journey.
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?
There are so many benefits of going abroad! You learn to interact with so many different cultures. Europe is probably one of the greatest places on earth and heavily populated with people of all different cultures. I have not only learned about culture while abroad but become more cultured myself. I came back to America with a new view of the world and a completely new attitude. I am a more independent, outgoing, and strong-willed as a person. I learned more about myself with each passing day spent in the country. It is an opportunity that will reward you for the rest of your life.
What advice can you offer for CSB|SJU students who are considering or planning to study abroad?
Do it!! You will not regret it! This has been one of the most worthwhile experiences of my life and has opened my eyes to a new world view. When going abroad make sure to step on to that plane with a completely open mind. There are so many amazing opportunities awaiting you in a new country as long as you are willing to immerse yourself completely in the culture. Do not say "no" to anything! You will be glad that you tried something new! This experience is a once in a lifetime experience to travel the world with a great group of Bennies and Johnnies. Trust me, four months abroad goes by faster than you would ever believe.