Ever since starting college I wanted to study abroad. University College Cork seemed like a good fit so I took a chance and traveled to Cork in the Fall of 2016. Although nervous at first, I can confidently say this was one of the best decisions I've ever made. Upon coming to the university, I was placed in an early start program focused primarily on folklore, where I went on field trips that provided me with once in a lifetime opportunities. We traveled around the country (even took a boat to the Aran Islands!!) with the professor as we learned about Irish traditions and customs. This class not only allowed me to become more accustomed to everyday life in Cork and learn about the culture, it enabled me to meet people from all over the world. Additionally, UCC's International Students Society made it easy to meet people, many of which I'm still friends with today. Everyone I met in Cork was so welcoming and my friends and I had so much fun exploring the city, the pubs, and the nightlife. Cork is a city, but it feels more like a town, so it didn't take long for me to feel comfortable living there. I always felt safe, even at night.
I would recommend getting involved as much as possible. Step outside your comfort zone and join clubs, take classes you might not have at home, and talk to as many people as possible. By taking classes such as Irish folklore and Irish history I learned so much about topics I otherwise would know very little about! The professors were happy to give their recommendations or advice to the international students. I really think putting myself out there made me a more open and confident person.
I'm so thankful for my time in Cork studying at UCC and I would recommend it to anyone looking for an abroad experience!