Gabrielle is an Ambassador who studied abroad in Galway Ireland
Minor: Political Science
Why did you choose to study abroad and how did you decide on this program?
Since I first came to CSB/SJU, I knew I wanted to study abroad. Throughout the course of the next few years, studying abroad became a goal of mine, something I immensely looked forward to. I had never left the country before, and on top of hearing how incredible a study abroad experience is, I knew this was a once in a lifetime opportunity for me. I desired to become more independent and globally aware, and to push myself outside of my comfort zone. I decided to study abroad in Galway, Ireland because of its rural appeal and more personal aspect of the program. We were located on the rugged coast of Ireland, surrounded by the beautiful green countryside and a few minutes walk from the ocean. I was enticed by the group dynamic of this program- living in cottages within a few feet of each other really enabled us all to bond in a way that is unique to this program.
Briefly describe a specific cultural experience you had on your trip that made a lasting impression.
One of the most cultural experiences I had on this program was getting to know the Sisters of Mercy, a monastery of four women located in Spiddal. During the first week we came to Ireland, a group of us walked into Spiddal to go to adoration at the local church. Little did we know that we were going to meet some incredible people who would touch our hearts in way we did not anticipate. Throughout the semester, we got to see these sisters almost every week, and every week they would express their excitement with seeing us and make time to talk to us after adoration. During our last week, they invited us over for tea and desserts, but the highlight was teaching us how to make hedgehogs out of bibles! They made us feel so welcome and loved, a feeling we will truly never forget.
Describe your overall study abroad experience.
The experience I had in Ireland is something that I struggle with putting into words. Studying abroad was some of the best three months of my life. I could never have imagined how much this experience will change my life, but it did and for that I am so blessed. Being abroad not only taught me more about myself, but opened my eyes to the world of opportunity out there. This program gave me an incredible lifelong experience through learning about a different and friendly culture, making lifelong friends, and exploring the beautiful Irish countryside. Studying abroad was one of the best decisions I have ever made, and this is an experience I will truly never forget.
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 studying abroad include becoming more independent, globally aware, and pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone. I learned to become comfortable with the uncomfortable and since studying abroad, I now am considering a future abroad. In the past three months, I learned to become more confident in my decision-making and critical thinking skills, skills which will benefit me personally, academically, and professionally. I now am better at adapting to unfamiliar atmospheres. Beyond that, I became more globally aware. I was so surprised by the amount of knowledge Irish people have about American current events. Through this experience, I was able to see more of the world and get a desire to keep up with other countries' current affairs.
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. This will not be an experience you regret. If you are nervous to study abroad, I encourage you to apply anyways. I was so nervous before I left for study abroad, but it helped me grow a lot as a person and taught me more about myself than any other experience could have. I will cherish these memories made in Ireland for they were some of the best experiences of my life. For those planning on studying abroad, make sure to journal every day regardless of how tedious it may seem at times. Also, make sure to just be present and take in all the sights of the country. I encourage you to really strive to get to know and talk to the local people. Be comfortable with being uncomfortable and push yourself outside of your comfort zone!