Paul is an ambassador who studied abroad in Galway, Ireland
Major: Natural Science
Why did you choose to study abroad and how did you decide on this program?
I chose to study abroad for a few reasons. The first reason was I was always told growing up that I needed to because it would be the trip of my life, this I found out was true. Secondly I liked the idea of truly being away. My family lives about an hour away and I wanted to not only know what it felt like to live in a new country, but to also be truly on my own.
The particular reason or choosing Galway as my study abroad location stems from a couple factors. The first being academics. I am a science major and education minor. This equates to a tight schedule. The Galway study abroad was one of the few that would fit for me due to the large amount of generals that are accomplished while abroad. The second reason I chose it is because I have a large amount of family history present in Ireland. I even managed to track down my great great great grandparents graves.
Briefly describe a specific cultural experience you had on your trip that made a lasting impression.
The first experience that comes to mind is the people. If you have a question they go out of their way to help. The people are very kind and genuinely care. I experienced this in the wide array of hostels that I stayed in. I will always remember the Foyle's (owners of the hotel we lived in). They were so nice and welcoming and accommodated us very well.
Describe your overall study abroad experience.
My overall experience was amazing, but that is the simple answer. It feels appropriate to sum up what I have accomplished on this trip by recapping all that I have accomplished (Warning long list approaching!): I have hiked three mountains and reached the highest point in Ireland and hiked in the Alps, I have traveled to five different countries, learned 2000 years of Irish history, literature and theology, deep sea fished, recorded a music video with Irelands leading musicians, tracked down family heritage, experienced the hostel life, lived out of a backpack for ten days, met Evanna Lynch (Luna Lovegood), experienced several Irish pubs, traveled away from family for the first time, remained out of the States for over three months, gained new friends, had five different currencies in my wallet at one time, travelled via train, bus, plan, car, and foot in one day, ate a full Irish breakfast, learned how to cook without the microwave or frozen pizza, wrote a blog for the Star Tribune, tested myself on a ropes course, learned the words fortnight and penultimate, learned great card games, lessened dependence on electronics, wrote letters with a pen (mind blowing I know), mastered the Tube in London, became more sustainable, read several good books, went to nearly every corner of Ireland, tried several news foods, discussed the ramifications of a post-colonial society and neo colonialism, watched the sun set over Spiddal, and most of all I have had a most wonderful experience on this adventure in my life.
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?
It is a great question, why study abroad? Well the better question is why not? I have gained a great deal of knowledge not only of the world, but also myself. For starters I now understand the world as a global entity, not just the United States. I am now more concerned about global affairs and actually understand them. Additionally I learned how to manage problems and stress a great deal more. Being put in a foreign country and more-or-less be on your own is a learning experience. This was very apparent when I post traveled. If something went wrong it was on me and I needed to deal with it. I know that I am never going to be the same person as when I left, and that is a good thing. I am more culturally diverse and confident in myself.
What advice can you offer for CSB/SJU students who are considering or planning to study abroad?
If it fits into your schedule, do it. Do not blink and let this opportunity pass you by. It is a once in a lifetime opportunity. Being afraid is normal. I was too, but once I got there I never regretted my choice of going and now I cannot wait to go back!