Why did you choose this program?
I liked that it came with on-site residents and that there were excursions included with the trip fee.
It was great that my scholarships were able to transfer with the program. I also liked that there was an option other than Dublin to go to so I wouldn't be in such a big city.
What did your program provider (or university) assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?
AIFS had a contact person for once you were accepted into the program, I was able to ask her a lot of questions. They also put together a group on Facebook for all the people in the program so we were able to put questions in there so everyone would get an answer.
A pre-departure packet was provided about week before I left that had a lot of good information regarding what would happen when I got there. They helped me through a lot of it. I also used Pinterest as a resource for what I would need.
I had an awesome support system, and I didn't feel alone during any of it.
What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?
You don't need 5 sweaters. I know Ireland is cold and you think you will need a lot of warm clothes, but you will only end up wearing 3 on a regular basis.
Learn to do laundry. Bring enough clothing for 5-7 days. Seriously. I brought clothes that I didn't need, which just took up room in my suitcase.
Leave room for a lot of souvenirs. You will get a lot. Bring something from home. A stuffed animal, a shirt of your favorite sports team. Something that you can hold on to when you are feeling homesick.
What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?
Classes started at 9am and there were night classes that went until around 9pm. I never had a day that went from 9 to 9 though.
I had 2 classes in the morning then I would go home for lunch and then go back for my other class. I had labs and one class on Tuesday's and Thursdays.
On the weekends, I would go on an International Society trip to a different part of the country. Sunday I would spend some time on homework and just have a day to relax.
I would go into the city for groceries about every 10 days, and I used the convenience store near my house to supplement during the week.
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?
Homesickness. I knew that I was going to be homesick. I am every time I leave home. I brought my favorite stuffed animal with me to remind me of home and I could hold when times were rough.
I also brought something that each of my parents had bought for me in the past. I brought a small thin blanket my dad had got me and a handkerchief from my mom. They fit in my suitcase easily but were also nice to have when I was feeling homesick.
I was able to have my iPhone there with me and was able to text and FaceTime with my parents a lot which helped significantly.
Where is one place in the country you were at would you recommend students go to?
Kilkenny! It's a small city that reminded me a lot of the small town I am from. There are a lot of shops lining the streets and it was a fun place to hang out for the day. It was very relaxed and an enjoyable place to be. Makes for a great day trip.