Sara Wall '21
Program: Ireland-Cork Spring Semester
Student Athlete: Cross Country
Why did you choose to study abroad and how did you decide on this program?
I have no idea when I first decided I wanted to study abroad. However, I do remember CSB/SJU’s study abroad rate/programs being a huge draw for me in my college search. I chose to study abroad in Cork, Ireland for the independence and the immersion into the Irish culture it would give me. I loved the idea of being able to go to a foreign country with a small group of students without an advisor. Between that and being directly enrolled and attending classes at the University College Cork (UCC), I would be able to have the true experience of living (almost) independently in a foreign country. I also loved that I would be able to choose from a wide range of classes, including psychology, and could become involved in one of the many societies or clubs on campus.
Briefly describe a specific cultural experience you had on your trip that made a lasting impression.
While studying at UCC, I became involved with UCC’s Musical Theater Society. I participated in a show and we performed the piece at a competition in Galway at the end of March. The entire experience with the group was a marvelous one. Not only did I become well versed in pronouncing a few very difficult looking Irish names, I also made friends. It was not uncommon for me to be walking around campus or in City Center and to run into one of my fellow cast members who would readily wave hello and stick around to chat for a bit. Inters gave me a special and personable insight into Ireland’s culture.
Describe your overall study abroad experience.
I know it sounds cliché, but study abroad really is a life changing experience. Not only did I get travel around Europe, but I also got to learn about another culture and their way of life. I came back from Ireland feeling more confident and comfortable in my own skin than I had ever felt before. I also became more readily adaptable for all the curveballs that life throws. During my semester abroad, I made so many memories and connections that I can only hope will last a lifetime.
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?
In my opinion, studying abroad is one of the best things one can do for themselves during their college years. It shows future employers that you have an interest in the world and are open to new experiences. You also come away, at least in my experience, feeling confident, having a new sense of independence, as well as adaptability. Academically, you experience different types of teachers and learning environments than what you might have in the US. You will also learn quite a bit about your host country and its culture.
What advice can you offer for CSB/SJU students who are considering or planning to study abroad?
Do it. If you are even just thinking about it, do it. I have never heard someone say they regret studying abroad, if anything, people say they regret that they didn’t study abroad. CSB/SJU has so many amazing opportunities for trips abroad and I wish that every single student could take advantage of these programs. For more specific advice, I would say have an idea of what you want out of your time abroad/program. I wanted to take a lot of core classes and to be able to take courses in my major, so Cork was a big draw for me. I also wanted to experience a new level of independence I hadn’t had before. Since I studied abroad as a sophomore, this was my first apartment living experience, as well as not having a meal plan. This was something I was glad to have experienced going into my junior year. But honestly, no matter what program you choose you will have an amazing time.