Alumni Spotlight: Molly Lewen

Why did you choose this program?

I chose the CISAbroad Semester in Limerick program because I wanted to be able to experience a semester in Ireland, but I didn't necessarily want to live in a big city while I was there. At the same time, I didn't want to study out in the countryside away from everything. This program gave me the best of both worlds: I didn't live in a city, but I lived close enough to downtown Limerick so that I could be near bus stops and airports to travel to other locations. I also loved the idea that I would have a program adviser to help me with any issues I would have while I was there, as well as having a group of people my age to explore the country with and go to school with.

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

Our program adviser, John Hayes, took us into town on one of the first nights and helped us navigate the bus system, helped us find grocery and departments stores to buy food, linen, and phone cards. He also was very supportive and checked in on me when I spent a day in an Irish hospital. He would check in on me regularly to make sure I was okay and made sure I had people around me to check on me since he wasn't living on campus with us.

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

Don't skip the program excursions. They're so much fun, and you have a lot of freedom to do whatever you want on the overnight trips. The program covers the cost of the excursions, but bring your own money for souvenirs. Also, make friends with the people in your group. I still talk to my friends from my program, over a year later. We coordinate to visit each other and I wouldn't have met them outside of the program.

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

During an average week, you go to your classes and lectures, but you get to pick your schedule. Classes don't happen every day; most have a class once or twice a week, with a small module one day a week. Every month, you'll have a program excursion with the group: two-day trips and two overnight trips.

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

My biggest fear was that I wasn't going to make any friends. I've made lifelong friends through this program. I know that sounds cheesy, but we all lived in the same dorm community and were in the same program, so we had some common ground right when we began our abroad experience. That was invaluable when trying to make friends.