Ellen is an Ambassador who studied abroad in Galway, Ireland
Why did you choose to study abroad and how did you decide on this program?
I originally chose to study abroad on this program because I wanted to learn more about my own heritage, I wanted a program which included classes that fit with my four year plan and I wanted a program that incorporated travel around the country, had a relatively small group and was led by a faculty adviser.
Briefly describe a specific cultural experience you had on your trip that made a lasting impression.
The specific cultural experience that made a lasting impression from my program was learning about the political conflict in Northern Ireland throughout the past few decades. From our excursions to places like Belfast and Derry to the personal accounts that we heard from our professors in class, I learned a lot about a conflict that affected the nation as a whole in more ways than I had possibly imagined going into the program.
Describe your overall study abroad experience.
My overall study abroad experience fundamentally changed my identity. After this semester I look at my nationality, ethnicity and even religion in a whole new light. I truly believe this experience helped me grow by allowing me to discuss difficult issues happening within our own country compared to those occurring in Ireland at the same time. Overall, I walk away from this experience feeling more educated about another culture and more inclined to continue learning about other nations.
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?
The benefits of spending a semester abroad include: learning about a new culture through classes, excursions and personal experiences; having the ability to travel to multiple countries; understanding current events in the United States in a new context; and understanding the impact of major global issues (i.e., immigration, racism, etc.).
This program has contributed to my personal development by forcing me to live outside of my comfort zone, allowing me to learn more about my own values and helping me understand the nation where my family came from.
This program has also contributed to my academic development by allowing me to take classes that went in depth in various topics and discussions by supplementing class material with excursions and field trips.
This program also offered professional development by allowing me to communicate and learn from local Irish people. As a communication major, putting myself in an atmosphere where I interacted with people from a different culture allowed me to learn in ways that I wouldn't be able to in a classroom. Overall, the entire program offered me experience that will give me a more worldly perspective moving forward and ultimately a step up when apply for jobs in the future.
What advice can you offer for CSB|SJU students who are considering or planning to study abroad?
The first piece of advice I would give students who are considering studying abroad is to research the countries they wish to visit and make sure they understand what the program contains. I knew I wanted to go to Ireland, so I spent a significant amount of time comparing the Galway program and the Cork program to determine which would be the better fit for me.
Second, I would also encourage students who are considering going abroad to think about what they want to gain from their experience. For me, I didn't get to do an internship abroad, but I did get the chance to travel all across Ireland. To me, travel and experiences in multiple places across the country was more important than an internship. I would encourage students to find out what means the most to them in a semester abroad too.
Finally, I would encourage students not to be afraid to enter an experience like this that may be outside their comfort zone. I was initially a little scared about going abroad, but now I see that semester as one of the most incredible experiences of my life.