Hannah Weis '19

­­­­Program: Ireland-Cork Spring Semester

Major: Biology

Minor: Secondary Education

Why did you choose to study abroad and how did you decide on this program?

While I was touring colleges in high school, I knew I wanted to study abroad. St. Ben's and St. John's have so many options of places to go abroad that it was huge factor in why I decided to become a Bennie. I wanted the opportunity to learn about a new culture and push my boundaries. I chose to study abroad in Cork, Ireland because it was actually the program that scared me the most. We directly enroll at the college in Cork so there is no CSB/SJU professor that goes abroad with you. With that being said, it is a very independent program. That made me really excited but also really nervous. I wanted my abroad experience to challenge me so it was the perfect fit for me.

Briefly describe a specific cultural experience you had on your trip that made a lasting impression.

I was lucky enough to take an Irish step dancing class while I was attending University College Cork (UCC). It was the perfect way to get my fine arts requirement and have some while doing it! Over the course of the semester, we learned 3 different routines. At the end, our instructor invited us to perform at a local pub. There was a live band playing a tune for us and the people in the pub were clapping and cheering us on. It was an amazing experience and one that I will never forget.

Describe your overall study abroad experience.

As a whole experience, I learned a lot while I was abroad. Besides my Bennie roommates, I also lived with 2 other international students and it was wonderful to get to know them and pieces of their culture as well. UCC was a much bigger university than CSB/SJU so many of my classes were large lectures where I felt like a fish in the sea. But nonetheless the atmosphere on campus was great. I became much better at planning trips and along with managing how much I was spending. I grew so much in my independence and my confidence as well. And lastly, the Irish people were so welcoming and kind. It was truly amazing traveling the country and learning about all the unique customs the Irish have.

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?

I was really happy I got to spend a full semester abroad because I then could truly immerse myself and get settled in to life in Ireland. In my personal development, I pushed myself out of my comfort zone. I had actually never seen the ocean and had very little experience in airports before I went abroad but I quickly learned how it all works. I also grew in my confidence and was not afraid to ask questions even if I thought they were silly. The university I attended in Cork had a large variety of classes so I completed many of my common curriculum requirements for CSB/SJU while I was abroad. I also learned about the culture and history of Ireland which really interested me. In my professional development, I learned how to go with the flow and how to work through any situations that might not go as planned. I also became more understanding of other people's lives.

What advice can you offer for CSB/SJU students who are considering or planning to study abroad?

My best advice would be to look through all the programs that CSB/SJU has before deciding on which one best suits you! I was really nervous and scared when choosing and even right before I left for abroad but I think that just shows how much this experience will push you in a good way. My family and I are very close and at first it was really hard to be away from them, but it got easier as time went on so don't be discouraged if you think you will be homesick! Everyone gets homesick to some extent and the people on your trip will be able to help get through it. Also, while abroad it is important to make smart choices about your money but don't let that stop you from going on experiences that are once in a lifetime!