Riley Swenson

Riley is an Ambassador who studied abroad in Cork

Major: Biochemistry

Minor: Sociology

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

I wanted to study abroad because I had heard nothing but good things from those who had studied abroad while in college. I wanted to travel the world and I felt like this was the perfect opportunity to do so. I wanted to experience and live in another culture. Studying abroad allowed me to really learn and partake in a culture for an extended period of time. I choose to study abroad in Cork, Ireland because in this program you are directly enrolled in the University College Cork. I liked that I could choose from a wide variety of classes and take ones that I specifically needed to complete. I also felt by being directly enrolled in UCC I could immerse myself in the Irish culture better.      

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

During my last week in Ireland, some of us decided to attend a traditional Irish music session in Blarney. A fellow classmate took a step dancing class and invited us. We spent the night listening to music, watching step dancing, talking, drinking pints, and enjoying our last few days in Ireland. I will always remember this because it was exactly what people think of when you think of an Irish pub. I am glad I decided to attend this traditional Irish music session. It is one of my favorite memories from my time in Ireland.

Describe your overall study abroad experience.

I will always treasure the four months I spent in Ireland. Classes are very different from back home. Instead of homework, you will have an essay or test that will be your final grade. Classes are not as time consuming as they are in America. My favorite class was Introduction to Archeology. I loved the field trips we went on to see prehistoric sites. During my four months abroad, I traveled almost every weekend. I traveled around Ireland and to eight different countries during my time abroad. My favorite place in Ireland I went to was the Cliffs of Moher. The natural beauty of Ireland is amazing! I love to golf and enjoyed golfing in both Ireland and Scotland. My favorite course I played was the Old Course at St. Andrews. On campus. I was involved in Fencing Club and Golf Club, where I met and made many Irish and international friends by being involved in clubs on campus.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?

Studying abroad made me a much more confident and independent person. This personal development will help me reach my goal of becoming a physician. Studying abroad also helped me gain a worldly and cultural conscious view. I now see and understand various points of views. I now know that there are more than one correct ways to solve problems. The four months I spent in Ireland I learned more about myself, my goals, and what I need to do to successfully complete them.

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

Take advantage of every opportunity you can! Your four months abroad will fly by. Become involved in campus activities, join clubs, travel as much as you can, and really experience all that the country has to offer. At first, you will be homesick and uncomfortable. Those feelings will pass. Becoming busy and making plans will help you over that hump. Do not be afraid to confide in other people on your program. They will be more than willing to help. Ask a friend who has studied abroad for all the tips and tricks that they can give you. Try to plan time out of your week to talk to your family back home. They want to know what you are doing! Try not to focus on coming home. Enjoy every moment you can because when you get home you are going to miss everything about study abroad.