Natalie is an Ambassador who studied abroad in Cork, Ireland
Why did you choose to study abroad and how did you decide on this program?
CSBSJU's great study abroad reputation was actually one of the reasons I choose to attend this school. I knew the many benefits of immersing oneself in another culture through various foreign exchange students, and I wanted that experience for myself. One of the great appeals of this program is that it was only a few short hours from my great-grandfather's homestead. I knew I could gain a greater understanding of Irish culture and my personal heritage through this program. The Cork program is a more independent experience as no faculty advisor travels with the group. We basically directly enrolled into the University of College Cork and had the opportunity to be in classes with Irish students taught by Irish professors.
Briefly describe a specific cultural experience you had on your trip that made a lasting impression.
I took traditional Sean Nós singing lessons at UCC and one night, I went to the local pub and sang one song in Irish for a singers club that met there every week. They were so welcoming and encouraging, a characteristic often found in the Irish people. I also loved being able to use what I learned in class to really bond with the locals.
Describe your overall study abroad experience.
My study abroad experience, although one of the longer CSBSJU programs, was much too short. While I definitely had my moments of homesickness, my ailments were easily treated with a friendly Irish smile. While in Cork, I was able to take classes that applied to my major as well as classes that pertained to Irish culture. I also participated in the college choir and was involved in the philosophical society. I also had the wonderful opportunity to backpack through Western Europe for a month and got to see parts of Holland, Germany, France, Spain, and Italy.
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?
As someone who never really travelled outside of the country prior to studying abroad, I definitely gained and developed many important skills through this experience. I learned the importance of proper preparation, especially in regards to airport customs. I really utilized many problem solving techniques and gained more confidence in my independence. Studying abroad has definitely impacted my worldview and given me insight into different ways of life while simultaneously making me more aware of my own unique culture.
What advice can you offer for CSB/SJU students who are considering or planning to study abroad?
My number one piece of advice for those planning to study abroad is more of a piece of advice for when you return. Do whatever you can to let the experience challenge your mindset and don't let go of any revelations you have when you return. After the culture shock of returning home wears off, it becomes so easy to return back to old routines. Instead, try to make your experience present in your life by keeping the new skills sharpened and let your new perspectives affect your choices back home.
Do you have questions about studying abroad in Cork Ireland? Email Natalie at firstname.lastname@example.org