Alumni Spotlight: Colleen O'Toole

Why did you choose this program?

The reason that I chose API Study Abroad at the University of Limerick is because the program sounded amazing. After reviewing their website and a couple of others, it seemed like this program was more suitable to creating friendships and having adventures.

When I joined the program, I had no idea how much it would change the overall experience. The others in the program became my second family and this helped me gain confidence to really open myself up to friendships with the host community.

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

My university partnered with API for most of the tasks that needed to be performed before and after my arrival in Ireland. API made sure to provide step-by-step directions on what needed to be filled out and done before and helped anytime I had a question.

My home university worked closely in order to assure that all credits transferred correctly. It was such a smooth process

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

One piece of advice I have for anyone who is considering studying abroad is to really embrace the experience. Even if it is something that you do not think you would ever do normally, consider it and maybe give it a try. I never thought that I would go to a club, but I went with my Irish roommates and had one of the best nights ever.

Also, I know that it is exciting to travel around since everything is within easy access in Europe, but maybe skip that one country you planned on spending one night in and travel somewhere in your host country. Really experience the place you chose to study, do not just visit.

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

An average week involves attending class, usually nothing too heavy that will cause you to miss out on great opportunities, and then exploring on the days you have off.

In Ireland, everything is pretty close since it is so small that it gives you many opportunities to travel. Aside from this, API also has trips included in the program so that you get to explore with the others in your group and your group leaders.

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 was being away from my family for 5 months. I am very close with them and worried that I would find myself homesick, but I actually felt very comfortable and still had the opportunity to call them and talk to them as much as I wanted.

How important is it for you to join clubs and societies at your host school?

It is so important because people in the host country are excited to get to know you and interact with you, so make the effort. Join a club or society and meet people. Not only are there some that are extremely entertaining, but there are some that can help you in the future as well.