Allison is an Ambassador who studied abroad in Cork
Minor: Secondary Education
Why did you choose to study abroad and how did you decide on this program?
Going to Ireland has always been a dream of mine. I chose the Cork program for a variety of reasons. I grew up in a small town and had heard that Cork was a bigger city, so I wanted to experience what big city living was like, especially in a foreign country. The independence of the program also intrigued me. It was a bit intimidating at first not having a faculty director, but that is also what excited me about the program. Gaining more independence was something I was searching for while abroad, and learned so much while living in Cork. I also liked the idea of attending classes at an Irish University because it was another way for me to learn their culture and learning styles, and I learned a lot from the experience.
Briefly describe a specific cultural experience you had on your trip that made a lasting impression.
Me and a few other students from my study abroad group were a part of a choir society through UCC. After we met and sang for a couple hours, those in charge of the society would have a social hour at a pub or restaurant either on or off campus. One night we all ended up chatting and singing with quite a few Irish students at the social. It was amazing to have the opportunity to talk about our different cultures and to laugh and sing together. The experience is something that will stick with me for quite awhile when I think about Ireland.
Describe your overall study abroad experience.
My overall study abroad experience was life changing. I learned so much about myself while also learning and living in an entirely new country. I learned what it is like to me independent and to have the courage to step out of my comfort zone and try new things. Through the Cork program I was able to see the world. I learned what it was like to live in a thriving city. I experienced a culture I knew little about before living there. I was a student in classes I would not have had the opportunity to take if I did not study abroad.
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?
One benefit to studying abroad in Cork is the opportunity to be a student at University College Cork. I learned exciting and new things from my professors and there teaching style which is so different from CSB/SJU. This opportunity allows you to learn in a different way, and will add to the learning style you are used to. Through the University I was able to take courses that are not offered here at CSB/SJU. An example of one of these courses is an Irish Folklore class where I learned so much about Ireland and their traditional beliefs. The Cork program is also very independent. You are in charge of yourself and any traveling you do. This allowed me to become flexible and independent. Not everything goes perfectly to plan while you are abroad, so learning the skills to be versatile and calm in those situations. These are crucial skills to have when considering a professional career. I also did not have a phone plan while abroad, and it was refreshing not having all the time access to social media, which teaches you how much you depend on your devices. Without having a phone as a distraction, I was able to really take in what I was experiencing and reflecting it.
What advice can you offer for CSB/SJU students who are considering or planning to study abroad?
My advice would be to get out of your comfort zones. Try a new food that is part of the culture, take some time doing something or going somewhere by yourself, or take a class that is different from anything you have taken before just for the fun of it. I would also advice to keep a journal where you can document and reflect on your experiences. You will love this to read and remember when you come back home.