Miah Winterfeldt

Miah is an Ambassador who studied abroad in Cork, Ireland
Major: Social Science

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

I have always been interested in traveling internationally. Because my family emigrated from Ireland, I always had a special interest in visiting there specifically. The Cork program fit my need for an independent study abroad and worked well in my four year plan because I could directly enroll in the university.

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

One of my favorite memories abroad happened on a weekend exploring Cork city. As a history buff, I enjoy visiting museums more than the average person and was extremely excited to visit the local Cork county museum. While enthusiastically examining a small exhibit on one of the country's most respected heroes, the curator walked up behind me. "Oh you're a Michael Collins fan," he inferred. Showing typical Irish friendliness and hospitality, he asked, "Would you like to look at the letters?" I nodded, having no idea what he was talking about but eagerly followed him into a back room filled with artifacts. He pulled out a book filled with original love letters between Michael Collins and Kitty Kiernan (his fiancé). So here I am on a Sunday afternoon, flipping through pages upon pages of 90-year-old love letters written by one of Ireland's founders. To put this into perspective (for lack of a better comparison), this would be like looking at love letters between George and Martha Washington in America. That day I learned the importance of taking an interest in the local history and culture because you have no idea what someone might be willing to share!

Describe your overall study abroad experience.

Studying abroad, and studying in Ireland, was one of the best decisions I have made in my college career thus far. The Irish are on a whole different level when it comes to hospitality. Cork city is home to about 120,000 people and I would still get hellos or good mornings when I went on a walk. Where else in the world can you get that kind of openness in a big city?! They are the most heartwarming and friendly people you will ever meet! The people I met and stories I heard are something I will carry with me for the rest of my life.

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?

The Cork study abroad program is unique because of the independence it allows. This is true in both the personal and academic sense. A CSB/SJU advisor does not accompany the program which forces you to take charge of your own adventures. All the classes at UCC were taught by Irish professors to mainly Irish students but also students from all around the world. The educational environment was much different than CSB/SJU with larger class sizes and more lecture based classrooms but was a great opportunity to experience something new. Because of the independence, I learned more about myself and how I respond in really fun times or really stressful times. These are all things I will take with me throughout my life.

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

Choose a program that fits you. Once you have found that program, pull out all the stops and enjoy every moment of those four or five months. Be willing to change and grow because you will experience things you never thought would happen!

Questions?

Do you have questions about studying abroad in Cork-Ireland, or want access to my blog? Email Miah at abroad@csbsju.edu