Colleen is an ambassador who studied abroad in Galway, Ireland
Major: Nutrition and Pre-Physician's Assistant
Why did you choose to study abroad and how did you decide on this program?
I had previously visited Ireland before and of all of my vacations Ireland was my favorite. It is the most beautiful country and all of the people that inhabit it are so unbelievably kind. I also wanted a trip where there was a lot of traveling around and I knew that Ireland had a lot of weekend excursion trips and this appealed to me a lot.
Briefly describe a specific cultural experience you had on your trip that made a lasting impression.
One night when we were in a pub in Spiddal at the beginning of our trip the owner of the pub came over and started talking to us. Separation of the North and South of Ireland is still a touchy subject in the country. She was telling us about how Spiddal is a very traditional catholic gaelic town, and how she did not know gaelic and she was made fun of as a little girl for that. Her friend came over and was talking about how he longed for the day that the North of Ireland was reunited with the rest of the country and sang us a beautiful song that was about that issue. I think because we are studying abroad everything seems so glamorous and easy and it is stories like these that bring us back down to earth and show us that the world isn't perfect, and we can help change that with a little passion.
Describe your overall study abroad experience.
This experience was the greatest experience ever. I never expected to come out of the trip as half the person that I am now. Before I was scared to do things on my own and just make my way on my own. Now I know what it takes to be the person you want to be. Traveling as a group and as an individual shows you how to have so much patience and how to sit back and enjoy life instead of trying to bomb through it all the time. I know to enjoy the little things now, and I know that I can do so much more by myself than I ever thought possible.
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?
Independence is a huge benefit of studying abroad. Especially if you travel alone and don't have a phone, you have to learn how to ask for help, and be okay with being confused and lost, which I think our generation does not have that opportunity anymore. Study abroad taught me to enjoy life and to slow down instead of being so stressed about what's going on. I want to travel more and see the world and other cultures and I think that is something that gives me ambition and drive to my life.
What advice can you offer for CSB/SJU students who are considering or planning to study abroad?
I never thought I could study abroad. I did not even apply the first round because I never believed I could be that far away from home. After seeing my friends go through the process and feeling an ache for not applying, my mom talked me into doing so, saying I could always choose not too if I was too scared. I was a little apprehensive going into the trip but after being in Ireland for not even 2 hours I realized how easy it is to be with such an amazing group of people. You build your own home wherever you go. So I would tell them to apply even if they think they wouldn't be able to go because it was hard at times but the best decision I have ever made.