Alumni Spotlight: Payton Hoff

Hi everyone! I'm Payton, and I'm studying biomedical engineering at Hope College in Michigan. I am also a member of the varsity swim team at Hope, and I'm involved with the Society of Women Engineers and Engineers Without Borders. In my spare time, I love to read, cook, spend time with friends, hang out at the beach, exercise, and think about my future travels!

Why did you pick this program?

A young girl posing for a picture.

Ireland was a country that I had always wanted to visit for as long as I could remember. Actually, when I was looking for schools to apply to for college I spent some time researching Trinity College Dublin before I decided to stay in the US. When study abroad became a definite possibility for me, I knew that I wanted to spend a semester in Dublin.

I applied to a few programs, but I was so happy when I was accepted to Trinity through IES. Trinity offered a really unique experience because I was able to take a variety of classes that met the requirements I needed from my home school, and I was able to take classes with students not just from Ireland, but all over the world!

Another great aspect of Trinity was its location right in the heart of Dublin, which made exploring and learning about the city really easy! Having IES as a support for housing, basic information, and advice was really helpful and made my time in Dublin a lot easier!

What do you wish someone had told you before you went abroad?

How fast time goes! It's really difficult to settle into a routine studying abroad because you have an exciting, new experience nearly everyday! This makes everything fly by and before you know it, you're packing your bags and heading back home! It's so important to cherish every moment abroad.

Another important tip I wish I knew beforehand is how important it is to budget your money! You'll spend more than you want if you don't budget, especially if the exchange rate is not in your favor! Plan ahead for groceries/food, transportation, school supplies, cleaning supplies, and extra spending money for your travels and souvenirs!

Beautiful Scenery

What do you tell your friends who are thinking about going abroad?

I tell my friends all the time that if they have the chance to study abroad in some way, whether it’s for a year, semester, or summer program, they should definitely take advantage of the opportunity! Studying abroad was the best decision I’ve made in my life and I’m so thankful for all the experiences I had.

I grew a lot as an individual while I was in Ireland. Living abroad for a semester helps you gain a lot more independence and gives you a different outlook on the world around you. You can immerse yourself into a culture that can be so different, and at the same time so similar, to home. I always throw in a vote for Ireland when my friends are trying to decide where to go, but studying abroad anywhere would give you a valuable experience!

What was the hardest part about going abroad?

The most challenging part about studying abroad was missing events at home that I had been looking forward to. It was difficult seeing my teammates swimming in the championship swim meet at the end of the season while I was gone, as well as knowing that I was missing my older cousin’s wedding that I had been excited about for a long time.

Missing stuff like this caused me to be a lot more homesick than I had anticipated. To cope with this, I would check social media only one or two times a day instead of constantly being glued to my phone. I also talked to my family and friends on a set schedule as opposed to calling them only when I was lonely or homesick.

Beautiful scenery

What made this experience unique and special?

The best part about my study abroad program was that I could be independent in a new city, a new country, and a new culture. While IES was very helpful, there were countless times where I had to learn a few things on my own or with the help of my Irish friends.

From swimming on the left side of the pool lane instead of the right, to booking a week-long trip to Spain and England, I was able to gain a lot of skills and knowledge on things I didn’t even realize I had to know, or was too scared to learn about before.

This also applied to taking classes at Trinity that I would have never taken if I had stayed at home, such as the History of Irish Art, and the Relationship Between Christianity and Science in the Modern World.