Rachel Daniel 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.
There were so many great experiences that it's hard to choose just one. My group went to Northern Ireland-Derry and Belfast specifically, in the first few weeks of the program. Our first stop on the trip was in Derry. It was a wonderful little city full of that unique Irish character. There are cobble stone streets all over the city with shops and pubs up and down them. It was one of my favorite places that we visited! We got a tour of the city and surrounding area from our Archaeology professor Jaqui. She took us all over showing us megalithic tombs, ring forts, and other archaeological sites. It was great being on a one-on-one level with an Irish professor who knew anything you wanted to know! She also taught us some Irish that we could use in the city shops and in the pubs. All of the Irish people are good-natured and very friendly. I loved getting to know the local people!
Why did you choose the program in which you participated?
I wanted to study abroad so that I could gain new life experiences, grow as a person, and meet new people all in a completely different culture from my own. Galway seemed to be the best program that fit my needs because of its rural setting and group centered excursions. I am an outdoors person and had always dreamed of exploring another country. I wanted to become more independent and get out of my comfort zone. I didn't know anybody going to Galway so it seemed like a perfect fit! I had only heard good things about Ireland and the friendly people there so that also influenced my decision. I love the character that Galway has. There are streets made of cobble stone and musicians playing on every corner. It is truly an amazing place to be!
Describe your overall study abroad experience.
I know that going to another country may seem intimidating but it is absolutely 100% worth it! No matter what country you go to, you'll be able to be immersed in another culture and interact with the local people. It's one thing to be sitting in a desk here at CSB/SJU learning about another culture but being able to actually study there and taste, touch, hear, smell, and see that culture is quite different. I feel privileged to have been able to study abroad in Ireland and I would recommend studying abroad to everyone!
How has the trip affected you? How are you different for having completed the experience?
I feel like I'm a completely different person now that I've studied abroad. I learned so much about myself and other cultures that I will be able to take with me and make good use of it! It really is quite amazing how opportunities and hardships can cause you to grow so quickly. I went to Galway not knowing any of the people I was going with. I was able to meet 28 other people and create wonderful memories. Studying abroad in Ireland was the best decision I've made so far; I will always appreciate this experience. It may be cliché to say but studying abroad is truly life-changing!
What advice do you have for future Study Abroad Students?
DO EVERYTHING YOU CAN! Three months may seem like a long time but when you're in another country it flies by. Bring a camera with you and take as many pictures and videos as possible-trust me, you'll want to see those later on! Take the time to keep a journal. You don't need to write long entries but writing about what you saw or learned about that day will help you keep your memories alive. I would also recommend that you research Ireland and the activities you might want to do there. It's helpful to have an idea of what you'd like to do before you get there. The biggest thing I would recommend is getting out of your comfort zone! Instead of doing things that make you comfortable, get out there and do something you wouldn't normally do (nothing too crazy of course). Getting out of your comfort zone is a great way to learn more about the culture and yourself. You're only in Ireland for three months so make your time there count!