Riley Defries '24

Program: Ireland-Cork Semester

Major: Communication

Minor: Environmental Studies

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

I decided to study abroad because I have always wanted to travel outside of the United States and experience a new culture. I decided on Cork because of ancestorial ties to there and I was excited to learn about Irish archeology. Besides those, Ireland has such a beautiful landscape while having a lively city atmosphere that drew me in as well.

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

A cultural experience that has a lasting impact on me was when I took a bus from Cork to Belfast and learned about the history of the troubles in Northern Ireland. Seeing the murals, wall, and memorials around the city showed the loss and lasting impact it had on the community and the rest of Northern Ireland.

Describe your overall study abroad experience.

My overall experience was great. I traveled all across the country as well as flying to London for my birthday. I was able to try traditional Irish food and talk to various locals throughout. Besides trying new things, academics were interesting. I enjoyed my classes but was surprised by no busy work and instead a mix of papers, projects, and tests that made up the semester's homework. People were so friendly, and I had an amazing time living there and adapting to the culture.

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?

A big benefit of studying abroad is the opportunity for personal growth. I learned how to be more independent and came out of the program happier and more complete. Another benefit is getting the opportunity to network with professionals outside of the United States.

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

One piece of advice is to save as much money as possible before your program. You end up spending a lot of money on fun things like travel. Another piece of advice would be to not look over/underestimate small towns. I had some of the best experiences, food, and conversations in small towns outside of the big city.