After graduating from University I decided to finally fulfill my dream of living abroad in Ireland. I was incredibly excited but at the same time nervous because this would be my first trip abroad, all alone. This fear was quickly squashed because the program made it SOO easy to meet people from all over the world. Within the first week of my arrival I was already headed to a house party with a bunch of participants from the program! I learned invaluable communication skills, gained confidence, knowledge and an incurable desire for travel.
I learned about Irish music, culture and even a little bit of the Irish language from my Irish friends (Ishka Baha being an important one ;) ).
The most difficult aspect of the program for me was opening up a bank account as a foreigner. The banks really depend on you having a proof of address in order to open up a bank account. I had no proof of this, as I did not have any bills in my name or any government documents showing where I lived. After 3 months, with lots of tears, letters back and forth and nagging I was finally able to open up an account. I think the most valuable information I should have taken from the very helpful USIT orientation was to wait to apply for my PPS number until I had a place to live, as this can be used as proof as address.
There is so much more to write, but if you are thinking of taking a gap year to live abroad, just do it! I was able to travel all over Ireland and Europe in my 2 years in Ireland. I have friends all around the world now and memories and experiences that I will treasure for a life time. It will be an experience you will not regret!