Becky is a soon to be senior at the College of Saint Benedict. Last semester she had the opportunity to study abroad in Ireland where she both studied and interned in Dublin.
What did your program provider assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?
CSB was really great with setting us up with FIE. They coordinated all of our housing and accommodation once we got there. Leading up to the semester, CSB gave us a handful of informational meetings, letting us know what to expect as far as people and the school goes. We were given a list of classes that we were eligible to take and we only had to choose the ones we wanted.
FIE was in charge of our internship placements which was very helpful. It would have probably been near impossible to find one on our own. We were responsible for booking our own flights and other travel. There were two weekends when we traveled in Ireland with our FIE directors, but otherwise we were in charge of our own plans. Food, laundry, and other cleaning supplies were not supplied; however, most of us were provided with leap cards (bus/train pass) to get us to and from our internships.
What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?
A little bit cliché, but don’t be afraid to get out of your comfort zone and explore everything! It’s so amazing the kinds of places that you’ll find yourself in and everything will make for a good story. When you fully immerse yourself somewhere else, you set yourself up to learn so many new things. New things about whatever country you’re in, new things about the world, and most importantly, you’ll learn things about yourself that you never would know without putting yourself half way across the world in somewhere unfamiliar.
Additionally, to really be immersed in a culture and truly understand the society around you, learn as much as you can about their history - especially the major events or the things that students would learn in their early education. This will help you understand the people, the perspective, and the culture in general. I guarantee your global awareness will be exponentially greater, and you will appreciate your abroad experience so much more.
And also always be willing. If you’re only doing a semester abroad experience like me, it will go by so fast and you may not ever have this opportunity again. There were a handful of times when there were activities that weren’t of my particular interest, but they ended up being some of my favorite nights because we made the most of our time.
Life is too short, and study abroad is too short so embrace every moment with positivity and enthusiasm, you won’t regret it.
What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?
An average day typically was sleeping in a little bit because internships didn’t start until 9 and class usually didn’t start until after lunch. Most days I would go grab a coffee from a local cafe (never Starbucks or any chain), then after work/class was done, I’d meet up with my friends and we’d make dinner together then either head to a pub for a pint, or join our neighbors for cards or a movie.
A typical week was classes Monday, Wednesday, Friday - one class per day. Then internship Tuesday and Thursday from 9-5. We typically didn’t have much homework, so on class days we would do lots of exploring around the city, usually around Phoenix Park or Grafton Street. Usually a couple evenings out of the week our group would get together or pints or games or both. When the weekend rolled around, we would be traveling. 80% we would be going outside of Ireland to a different country in Europe for the weekend.
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 not getting along with the people I was traveling with. From CSB there was only 7 students, with FIE altogether there was about 60 of us. I was really nervous that we wouldn’t be doing things together and everyone would do their own and I wouldn’t come home with close relationships. To overcome this fear, I had to make myself a little bit vulnerable and be the person to encourage my classmates to do things together like walking to class, going for a pint or even watching First Dates Ireland on Tuesdays with everyone. By the end of the semester, we were all so close like we had been friends for forever. Looking back, I’d say that this was something a little bit naive to be nervous about.