Alumni Spotlight: Samantha Wohlmacher

Samantha is a senior at the University of New Hampshire studying communication sciences and disorders with a minor in nutrition. She studied at the University College Cork in spring 2016. Samantha plans to attend graduate school after graduation, with plans to receive her masters degree in speech language pathology. She hopes to one day practice internationally in the field of speech therapy.

Why did you choose this program?

Studying abroad in Cork, Ireland

I chose this program because it offered a focus in nutrition in which I could receive credit for my minor. In addition I wanted a typical European university experience, and I have always dreamed of studying in the beautiful and charming country of Ireland.

What did your program provider assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?

My program provider/university assisted me with finding housing, the application process, getting adjusted, financial aid, insurance and providing information about the country, the city and the college. I had to plan my travel arrangements on my own.

What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?

This will be the best experience of your life. It will be challenging at times, extremely rewarding, and 100% worth it. Expect an adjustment period, and culture shock when you arrive. If you are like me you'll want to get right back on the next plane home as soon as you get there. Don't listen to these feelings, you'll get over them quickly.

Know that everyone adjusts at different rates, but also know that the best way to get over the shock is to get involved, try new things, and step outside of your comfort zone.

Rely on other study abroad students who may be feeling similar feelings but also make friends with locals. Soon enough this new place will feel like home.

Also expect to experience culture shock when you return home. It will be tough, but getting involved in your study abroad club at your home university and talking to other students who've had similar experiences really helps. Also, don't lose contact with the friends you've met abroad; they are the only ones who will get your inside jokes and truly understand your experiences.

What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?

An average day consisted of going to class for an hour or two, spending the rest of the day exploring the city of Cork, and going out for drinks with local friends. It was a pretty laid back lifestyle filled with adventures and memories to last a lifetime. Many local students went home on the weekends so us study abroad students would use that time to travel Ireland or Europe.

Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it and/or how did your views on the issue change?

My biggest fear going abroad was that I wouldn't make the most of my time there. Throughout the first couple of weeks I was trying to do so much, and I stressed every day that I wasn't doing enough. I was afraid I wouldn't take advantage of my time there. After getting stressed out about not doing enough I began to tell myself I had plenty of time and then kept pushing trips and things I wanted to see off.

I finally conquered this fear by just living in the moment and seizing opportunities when I could. Honestly, looking back, some of my favorite memories were sitting a a local coffee shop with friends or getting drinks and going to clubs with some of our Irish friends that we had made. This was making the most of my time. Meeting new people and making memories with them was some of the best time I spent over there.

If you could go back and change anything about your experience, what would it be?

Although there was nothing I would really change about my experience, if I could go back I would definitely travel the country of Ireland more. There are many places that I wished I could've seen that I didn't get a chance to.

Despite this, there was a reason I didn't leave Cork to explore the country more: I just enjoyed being there. There was so much to see and do there, and my new friends were there. So even though I wish I could've seen more places, I don't regret spending most of my time in Cork. That just gives me an excuse to go back.