Laura is an Ambassador who studied abroad in Cork, Ireland
Why did you choose to study abroad and how did you decide on this program?
I really wanted to travel outside of the country and really step out of my comfort zone. I chose Ireland because it was very close to my grandmother's heart and we practice so many different European traditions at home that I felt like I would not get as homesick. I had also heard from various family members that Ireland is the beautiful place you can travel and has the friendliest atmosphere. I did a lot of research to make sure this was the place I wanted to spend my five months and I found out that it was.
Briefly describe a specific cultural experience you had on your trip that made a lasting impression.
One night, a group of us decided to go and play BINGO at a pub nearby called the Joshua Tree. I have always loved BINGO and was shocked that they played it over in Ireland too! It was our first time playing and to our surprise it was very different than American BINGO so we were all a little confused. The announcer was very helpful and always checked to see if we were doing alright and the man sitting next to us offered us his chips and advice. I was amazed at how friendly and welcoming everyone was. Even though we were new and clearly not from the country, they were still so hospitable and happy that we were there.
Describe your overall study abroad experience.
My overall study abroad experience was truly amazing. I would go back in a heartbeat. It not only made me step outside of my comfort zone but it also opened my eyes to a world around me that I had never experienced before. I got to experience a different culture and make life-long friends along the way. I wouldn't trade this experience for anything.
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 to studying abroad seem endless. Even the process leading up to it is helpful. You learn how to make a resume and you get practice with interviewing. While you are abroad you learn to take care of things on your own because no one is over there to help you. It really made me grow up and feel more comfortable about traveling in general. You are also able to see a whole different side of academics (at least in the Ireland-Cork program). We got to directly enroll into a school in Ireland and see how they handle schooling (which is very different). When looking into the future, this will be so helpful with my professional career. Our jobs are becoming more globalized and the more interaction and experience we have with other countries the better. It also helps you to understand others that come from a different background.
What advice can you offer for CSB/SJU students who are considering or planning to study abroad?
I would say it is an absolute must to study abroad. They should not be too scared about the money because it will not be drastically different from what they already pay for school. I would also say that getting on the plane and leaving your family is so scary, but in the end the time really does fly and I didn't feel that homesick at all. I can't think of a single reason why they wouldn't study abroad if they have the opportunity.
DO you have questions about studying abroad in Ireland? Email Laura at firstname.lastname@example.org.