Bethany Luckemeyer is an Ambassador who studied abroad in Galway, Ireland
Briefly describe a specific cultural experience you had on your trip that made a lasting impression.
On one of our weekend excursions we traveled to Northern Ireland and went to the city of Derry. This was by far one of my favorite weekend experiences our Professor Jacqui was able to be our tour guide and took us around the historical city. Jacqui being from Derry was able to share personal stories of growing up during the struggles in Northern Ireland and shared many detailed stories of how life was when she was a child. We toured the museum of Free Derry which left a lasting impression when we learned about the fatal day of Bloody Sunday. It was a tragic event that I was never aware of until our visit. Viewing a museum purely dedicated to the struggles and that tragic day was extremely eye opening. We then went on to receive a guided tour around the city viewing the memorial dedicated to the victims, peace murals, and walking on the wall that divides the city. We heard numerous stories of the struggles between the Catholic and Protestant communities at the time and how different life was from how it is today. It was by far the most intriguing days of our entire experience abroad and left a lasting impression.
Why did you choose the program in which you participated?
Before attending CSBSJU I never considered spending a semester abroad but once hearing about the tremendous opportunities present I quickly knew that this was an ideal opportunity to expand my horizons and create a once in a lifetime experience. This was a prime opportunity to experience life in another country for an extended period of time which I realized I may never get the chance to do again. I chose the Galway program rather quickly after falling in love with the program description and hearing feedback from others that had previously gone. I was eager to learn about the Irish culture which may have been influenced by my Irish heritage. One of the things I enjoyed most about this program was the numerous excursions that were offered to places and sites all around the country. The rural aspect of the program also drew me in. I fell in love with the idea of living in cottages at Park Lodge in a small town directly next to cost of Galway Bay creating a community feel. I also enjoyed the fact of being close enough to the city of Galway to experience the urban lifestyle too. This program is a perfect balance between small town and large city living.
Describe your overall study abroad experience.
This is a great opportunity to break away from the rush of the American lifestyle while being immersed in a culture full of history and life. I learned more in three months than I ever could of imagined possible, I was able to travel to places that took my breathe away and others that left a definite impression on me all while creating bonds with 28 other people that now resemble a family. We were able to learn traditional Irish dance, music and even a couple words from the Irish language along with an abundance of historical events and current cultural occurrences. It was the best experience of my life, it was so much more rewarding and memorable than I ever thought possible.
How has the trip affected you? How are you different for having completed the experience?
I still think about Ireland every day and I am counting down the days (more like years) until I can return. Ireland is such a large part of me now and I literally feel like the Park Lodge is another place to call home in this world. This entire experience has helped me become more culturally aware and shines light on different perspectives to numerous situations. It is so easy to get caught up in your own world sometimes we forget to realize everything that exists beyond our own walls. It is refreshing to step back, expand your horizons and understand what the world has to offer. There are so many experiences and cultures the world holds it's an extremely valuable experience to be able to witness all you can.
What advice do you have for future Study Abroad Students?
It is hard to put into words what a great experience studying abroad is which then makes it almost impossible to understand the opportunities that are ahead of you. You truly have no idea everything you gain from studying abroad until you experience it yourself therefore I believe it is a definite must. It is a once in a lifetime experience to travel the world with a great group of students that become friends and by the end you will consider your family. I truly believe you will never regret making the decision to go but you more than likely will regret deciding not to. One semester abroad may seem like an eternity but it's an extremely short venture in the large scheme of life. The time fly's by when you are abroad I know for a fact I could have stayed in Ireland for another three months. So my advice is take this opportunity and witness what the world has to offer you will surely fall in love with another culture and country just as I did.