Stella is an Ambassador who studied abroad in Galway
Why did you choose to study abroad and how did you decide on this program?
I knew I wanted to study abroad when my cousin, who also went to CSB, studied in Greece and Rome. I chose to study in Galway for a few different reasons. First, I wanted to go somewhere that spoke English. Since there are several programs that don't require a language, I wanted to listen to what the ambassadors had to say at the study abroad fair. When I talked to the students who went to Galway the previous fall, I knew it was the right program for me. They told me that you become very close to your group and studying abroad in Ireland reflects the same community you find on campus, one of the reasons I chose CSB too. Traveling was also a huge part of why I wanted to go to Galway. The ambassadors expressed to me all the different places you get to see around Ireland and that they are planned for you and paid for through the program.
Briefly describe a specific cultural experience you had on your trip that made a lasting impression.
One cultural experience I had while in Ireland that made a lasting impression was going to the Museum of Free Derry and taking a tour around the city walls of Derry with our archeology professor, Jacqui. The Museum of Free Derry is a personal account of the Bloody Sunday massacre that occurred on January 30th, 1972. Before going to Derry, I only knew a little bit about the Troubles and the tension between Catholics and Protestants but that weekend I learned a lot. On January 30th, the people of Derry had intended to hold a peaceful civil rights parade. What they had thought was going to be a nonviolent demonstration turned into a disaster. After we went to the museum, we walked around Derry and Jacqui showed us various political murals around Free Derry. It is clear that the people are still feeling the hurt of this event and when we toured the city walls, it was evident she was slightly uncomfortable going into the Protestant section because she is Catholic. She told us that they stay on their side and she stays on hers. It was a little bit difficult for us to fathom. All of this was completely new to me but I learned a great deal in a couple of short hours.
Describe your overall study abroad experience.
My overall study abroad experience was incredible. I learned a lot about the culture I lived in, as well as learning things about myself. What I learned about myself was what is really important in my life. I learned that some of the things I have at home are a luxury. There were times that living in the cottages at the Park Lodge felt like camping but I had to adjust and it changed how I viewed things when I got back. For example, if we wanted hot water, we had to turn on the water heater and wait for it to warm up. I am still shocked at times when I go to do the dishes and warm water immediately springs from the tap but this experience made me more grateful for what I have at home and provided something for all of us to laugh, sometimes complain, but mostly bond over. Even though I didn't have all the things I am used to at home, I felt lucky almost every day to have such a great opportunity. I was able to travel to the most beautiful places I have ever seen. I got to see castles and tombs older than the pyramids of Egypt. I got to meet people I will never forget and experience a totally different world with other Bennies and Johnnies and, as cliché as it sounds, it was honestly the most amazing experience I've ever had.
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?
Some of the benefits of spending a semester abroad are finding out what you are capable of, dealing with uncertain situations, and seeing new things. I learned a lot about living on my own with much fewer resources than I have on campus. It contributed to my personal development because I had to learn how to cook, grocery shop, and get around without any previous experience of making meals or using public transportation. It was difficult at first but I learned a lot about my abilities to live on my own. Academically, I learned a huge amount outside of the classroom, actually visiting the historical, monastic, and archeological sites we had learned about previously in class. It was a huge change from anything I'd ever done before because I had never had the opportunity to connect my learning with my environment on such a close level before. Professionally, I believe studying abroad is going to help me deal with circumstances I that I have never encountered before because I have learned to stay calm and to problem solve. I also believe that it has increased my ability to relate to and communicate with all kinds of different people.
What advice can you offer for CSB/SJU students who are considering or planning to study abroad?
Advice I would offer a student who was considering study abroad would first be to definitely go! Then, I would advise them to look into the programs that interest them and choose one that fits their schedule and needs the best. I believe there is a program at CSB/SJU that fits any needs and interests and there is no program they would regret going on. Having the chance to live in another country for an entire semester is a once in a lifetime opportunity and they should take full advantage of the amazing and unique programs our school has to offer.
Do you have questions about studying abroad in Galway? Email Stella at firstname.lastname@example.org