Maggie is an Ambassador who studied abroad in Galway, Ireland
Why did you choose to study abroad and how did you decide on this program?
The one thing that fully convinced me to study abroad was that another opportunity like this would likely never come around again. To be in a different country experiencing all its culture had to offer for almost four months is a once and a lifetime opportunity. I wanted to learn about a country where some of my family has come from. I was specifically drawn to the Galway program because of the small community aspect. The town of Spiddal is right on the Galway bay. Being in such a beautiful and scenic location was something that I could not pass up.
Briefly describe a specific cultural experience you had on your trip that made a lasting impression.
While we were in Northern Ireland, we walked the streets of Derry with our professor, Jacqui. She told us stories about her experiences growing up and living in Northern Ireland during the Troubles. We also went to the Free Derry Museum as a group. Jacqui, and another man who worked at the Museum were able to tell us stories and the memories that they had of the people, events, and artifacts that were displayed. Listening to how they have been affected by the Troubles definitely made an impression on me. I think we also got a taste of the resiliency and pride that the Irish people have during this trip. In a place that has faced so much conflict, and fighting, it was incredible how welcoming and optimistic people were.
Describe your overall study abroad experience.
There were a lot of new experiences that came along with being abroad. Even something as trivial as going to the grocery store was a completely new experience. Overall, being in Ireland was filled with new adventures and opportunities. We were always learning about the Irish culture, and their social norms by having conversations with locals and observing the differences from our own country.
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 believe studying abroad benefited me in more ways than I could ever have imagined. I was able to learn under teaching styles that I was not used to. I especially enjoyed learning about Ireland’s history and then being able to go out and actually see the places that we would talk about in class. Outside of academics, forming new friendships was an extremely fun part of studying abroad. We share experiences together that no one at home fully understands which makes coming back to school so much fun. Together, we learned how to navigate the country, met amazing people, and formed lasting friendships. I think studying abroad also helps to give a different perspective on the world, and an insight to different cultures. Having this knowledge will be helpful in a future career where I will encounter a lot of different people with a wide variety of backgrounds.
What advice can you offer for CSB/SJU students who are considering or planning to study abroad?
Just do it. I found that the more I thought about going abroad, the more apprehensive I got. I worried about everything that could go wrong, or the things that I might miss out on at home. The truth is, life goes on at home without you, but you are living a life abroad that everyone at home is jealous of. So, if you have any desire to go abroad, do it. While you are abroad, keep that same mentality. You will never regret those spur of the moment decisions to go see a show, listen to music, or strike up a conversation with locals. Take in as much as your host country has to offer you. It is also important to not stress too much, as hard as that sounds. I spent weeks worrying about what to pack, and all of the potential conflicts that I may encounter while abroad. I quickly learned that was all wasted time though. While abroad, it is necessary to take things in stride and make do with what you have. Your fellow classmates will be in the same position, and you can support each other.