Quinn Leonard

Quinn is an Ambassador who studied abroad in Cork, Ireland
Major: Psychology
Minor: English

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

I had decided Cork was the program for me before I even committed to CSB. One main deciding factor in what college to go to was the study abroad options. Between all the schools I applied to, the Cork program at CSB was by far my favorite one. I chose this program because of its aspect of independence. With no faculty going over with you it made me accountable for my time abroad, which I saw as a challenge I was ready for. I also preferred the fact that I was able to go to school at a university rather than being taught by a professor from CSBSJU. I wanted to experience what it would be like completely immersed into college life in another country and that is exactly what I got with this program. On top of all of this, researching Ireland, I was taken aback at the beautiful scenery and array of experiences which also helped me decide this was the program I wanted to go on.

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

The cultural experience that made the most lasting impression was the lifestyle of Ireland. However, I didn't realize just how much this impacted me until I got home. I didn't believe reverse culture shock was a real issue until I left. The relaxed and friendly lifestyle of Ireland, especially Cork, had become comfortable to me. None of my outings were without a friendly conversation with a local. Time moves differently there. People are not in such a rush and there is more time being spent enjoying the atmosphere around you. There was no pressure to be so driven. This cultural experience is what impacted me the most and has made it an interesting challenge adapting back into life at home. Learning how to integrate myself back into my friendships has been the most difficult. Being so isolated into one group abroad, brought us all so close together and we were able to make getting to know one another a priority. Coming back to friends that have other competing responsibilities has been a challenge, especially when I have found myself with these other responsibilities as well that I hadn't had the last months abroad.

Describe your overall study abroad experience.

My experience abroad was very different than the rest of the groups. I was a sophomore abroad, which I felt made me a lot more accountable for reaching out to others in the group that had already formed friendships. I also became friends with many locals and other students that were from the U.S. I feel like I was able to balance being apart of the CSBSJU group, but also not sticking to that comfort and getting to know others as well. I believe my study abroad experience was an amazing one, but definitely not perfect. I have many great memories and adventures that I will always remember. For example, traveling to Belfast for the weekend and learning about the Northern Ireland v.s. Southern Ireland feud at the peace wall and getting to see lifestyle on the opposite side of the country. However, I also experienced getting lost, stuck on the bus, going to the emergency room, and having a member of the group face a traumatic experience. I realized that being abroad does not mean smooth sailing and I too appreciate these low points on the trip because I learned the most from these experiences. Studying abroad will forever be the best adventure of my life and something I will always be thankful I had the opportunity to do.

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?

There are many benefits to studying abroad. For me I saw the main benefits were growth and more insight of who I am, understanding of a different culture and lifestyle, and more accountability for my own actions and myself. Studying abroad really helped me realize who I am and who I want to become in these next two years before I am out in the real world. I realized while traveling what I truly value in people I surround myself with and what to make a priority in my life. Also being abroad I learned how to adapt and deal with the different culture and lifestyle, not just in Ireland but with other places I traveled to. This will benefit me further down the road when I find a job and have to integrate myself into a company. Finally this program contributed to my academic development in making me accountable for myself and my time abroad. Being at a school much larger than CSBSJU and with a different academic layout I learned how to motivate myself and stay on top of my studies on my own. This was a great learning opportunity and I realized how much I value the academic program here at CSBSJU ad also what I can expect in my future education at a bigger school.

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

First off I would recommend to upcoming study abroad students to make sure they put together a financial plan. Whether this is a plan to make more money, take out loans, or just budget themselves wisely. I found that this took a lot of stress out of my trip and I was able to pay for everything I really wanted to do. Another piece of advice I would offer is to be open to new experiences and new people. I got out of my comfort zone by holding a lamb, meeting new people, and conquering the heights at the cliffs of moher and looking back I am so thankful I did. It made my experience so much more memorable and helped me grow as a person.