Abagael Gerdes

Abagael is an Ambassador who studied abroad in Cork

Major: Psychology

Why did you choose to study abroad and how did you decide on this program?

I wanted to experience a new way of living other than what I was used to. To be able to make connections in other areas of the world while having the support back home. I have always had a passion for the Irish culture and learning more about my heritage. The Cork study abroad program gave me the perfect opportunity to explore my likes and dislikes while gaining knowledge of a new location.                            

Briefly describe a specific cultural experience you had on your trip that made a lasting impression.

The schooling system in Ireland was different than what I anticipated. The lectures consisted of a large number of students, there was no homework, and the tests were usually at the mid and end of the semester rather than during the duration of the term. This forced me to adjust my studying habits in order to keep up with the material that needed to be completed.

Describe your overall study abroad experience.

My abroad experience was by far the best decision that I have ever made. The copious amounts of new experiences paired with starting to better understand myself made for a semester that I will never forget. In addition, my passion for cultural affairs has greatly increased due to being immersed in a new country.

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?

Learning the differences in the educational systems, meeting new people, gaining connections around the world, and stepping out of your comfort zone. I benefited the in my personal life, I was able to make my own decisions and step out of my comfort zone more than I ever could in The States. In return, this has helped me further develop my academic life due to taking my grades into my own hands and becoming more aware of what needs to be done to reach my academic goals. Personally, this experience has made me become more trusting in myself. I was able to navigate around a foreign country as well as fend for myself; The fact that I had to trust that I was doing what was best for me and often take leaps of faith

What advice can you offer for CSB/SJU students who are considering or planning to study abroad?

If you have the opportunity to study abroad, do it. Its a scary transition from normalcy to a new culture, but it's one that you will never regret. It will transform the way you view your own self as well as society and force you to see multiple viewpoints to every situation life throws at you. It's such a diverse experience and I think that it will have a positive long lasting effect.