Colleen is an Ambassador who studied abroad in Galway
Why did you choose to study abroad and how did you decide on this program?
I had always known I wanted to study abroad. Even though I have always been somewhat of a homebody, I believe college is the perfect time to go experience things. Later in life we tend to settle into our routines, so I knew if it was at all possible to go see the world now, I should take the opportunity.
I chose the Galway program for a few reasons. The biggest reason was because I was more interested in getting to know a great group of Johnnies and Bennies, really well. I knew that the Galway group would become a close knit group. I also chose Galway because of my Irish heritage; I wanted to learn more about my background and where my ancestors came from. Finally, Ireland is a gorgeous country, with very friendly people, and I knew it would be a great place to make memories.
Briefly describe a specific cultural experience you had on your trip that made a lasting impression.
Jacqui O'Hara was our archeological professor. Though I was not in her class, she came on some of our excursions and she definiely livened up a room when she was there. During one of her classes, she brought her students out to forage for barnacles, like the Irish of old used to do when there was little food to eat. When they came back, Jacqui cooked them up and offered them to anyone who would try them. She showed us how to eat them correctly, and it was hilarious to watch everyone as they tried to pull them out of the shell and pop them into their mouths. I didn't think they were too bad, but it made me think about how the Irish might have had them every day!
Describe your overall study abroad experience.
My study abroad experience was wonderful. I had been a little worried about being lonely and making friends on the trip, but Johnnies and Bennies are so friendly. We really became close: making meals together, learning together, studying together, having adventures together. I definitely made life-long friends on this program. I felt like the program was a great balance of classroom learning with many excursions throughout Ireland. All the courses related to Ireland or the Irish people, and after visiting so many places on the island, I feel like I know Ireland like I know Minnesota. It was my home for over three months! I was also lucky enough to travel to many other countries during our 10 day break and for two weeks after our classes ended. Studying abroad was a way I was able to branch out and experience brand new things, things I would never be able to experience in our own nation.
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?
Personally, as I mentioned, I wanted to study in Ireland to learn about my heritage. Now I have an incredible knowledge about my homeland.
Academically, since I am an English major and interested in literature, I was able to learn about Irish writers and poets, as well as visit significant literary places. I took an Irish literature course while abroad, and our professor took us to see the famous Yeats' home and some of the places that influenced his poetry.
Professionally, I have grown in my independence. Going abroad, you are in charge of yourself and the decisions you make. There is no one telling you what you should or shouldn't do (except perhaps your teacher!). I also learned skills that will be helpful to me after college, such as public speaking skills, cultural awareness skills, and the ability to strike up a conversation with someone I do not know. Studying abroad, I learned skills while I didn't even know I was learning them!
What advice can you offer for CSB/SJU students who are considering or planning to study abroad?
Definitely come talk to the Study Abroad Ambassadors! We are full of enthusiasm for the places we travelled to and studied in. We have lots of knowledge about what you might want to pack, tips about what to see and do, and tons of stories to get you excited for your trip. Many of us have pictures or blogs to help explain our experiences, and we are more than willing to answer any questions you have.
Do you have questions about studying abroad in Galway? Email Colleen at firstname.lastname@example.org