Travel has always been a passion of mine. In my 21 years I've traveled to 17 different countries, having experienced a multitude of different cultures, food, and people, but my experiences in Ireland stand of as my favorites. While abroad I saw 13 countries, and 30 different cities. My program with API was perfect from start to end. They helped me with planning, finding my flight, and picked me up at the airport. My site has a site director, Sophie, who helped us settle in then gave us a 2 day orientation of Maynooth and Dublin. Which was followed by another 2 day orientation presented my Maynooth faculty. After that my adventure truly began.
Maynooth University sits about 40 min away from Dublin via train/bus, and encompasses around 12,000 students in a town of 12,000 citizens. It is a small town by a historical one with a large Church and small Castle on it's grounds. It has a beautiful garden behind it's historical buildings on the old campus, and modern architecture on the new. You can walk anywhere you need to go in town, the downtown shops will have whatever you are looking for.
I was able to complete my minor in Psychology at Maynooth while also completing a certificate in Irish Cultural Heritage. Classes in Ireland were very different than classes in the US. Most of my classes had no homework, and no essays. They either had a Midterm and Final or just a midterm which determined your whole grade. This is something I loved because it allowed for more freedom on the weekends, but it did make the end of the semester a bit more stressful as I am used to creating a final project instead of test. I still really enjoyed this way of learning and felt it allowed me to truly make the most of my experience.
Maynooth offers a variety of clubs and organisations. I was apart of the Volleyball Club (which place 2nd in the country), Disney Club (which took a trip to Disney Paris), and the Surf Club (which took a trip to Lahinch on Irelands West Coast near the Cliffs of Moher). These were incredible opportunities to be apart of. Very few people can say they went surfing in Ireland, or place 2nd in the country for collegiate club volleyball. This also allowed me to meet so many people from a variety of cultures and backgrounds. Now I have friends from Romania, France, England, Belgium, Spain, Canada, and Ireland. Not to mention friends I made from the US all across the country in NC, WI, MO, CO, MD...
My program itself was one of a kind. I was apart of API Dublin although my school was in Maynooth. API Dublin included groups from University College Dublin, Trinity College, and Maynooth University. This was a great experience because it allowed me to meet other students at other schools and broaden my horizons even further. Through API we went on cultural excursions through our host country as well as internationally. I went on a trip to the Ring of Kerry, went sighting at Queen Maeve's grave, Galway, the Wild Atlantic Way, and Surfing in Bundoran. We also did smaller excursions closer to home like the Leprechaun museum, Paddle Boarding, and Community Service. And we went on an international excursion to Edinburgh, Scotland. There we saw Edinburgh Castle, part of the catacombs of the original city, and Greyfriars Kirkyard (Statue of Greyfriars Bobby).
I could talk about my Abroad experiences for hours on end and really haven't stopped talking about it since I returned to my home institution. Ireland was home to some of the nicest people I have ever met. Helpful locals happy to show you around to be honest about the best spots in town and hidden gems many tourist miss out on. If you are looking for a school where you can be involved, if you are looking for a friendly helpful community, if you are looking for the best abroad experience around, look no further. API Maynooth is the trip for you.