I didn’t know that when I was deciding where to study abroad, I would be making a decision that would change my life forever. I wasn’t sure exactly where I wanted to study abroad, but after some research and asking around, I realized that Ireland was the place for me. Once I heard how welcoming, friendly, and genuine the Irish were I knew it was exactly where I wanted to study. I just wasn’t sure what part of Ireland as there are many schools to decide between. I was first thinking of studying in Dublin since it is the most known county in Ireland, but after some more research and the help of SUNY Albany, I made the best decision of my life to study in County Galway.
While I was applying for this opportunity, I hadn’t heard previously heard of Galway and was questioning if it was the right place for me since I have never heard of it before. Within the first day of being in Galway, I knew that I had made the right decision of where I would be living for the next semester. I knew I was in the right place when I apologized for bumping into someone on the street and they replied with the biggest smile and said, “No bother, you’re grand”. That is just one small, everyday example how everyone in Ireland is just so happy and content.
Galway was the perfect place to study because it is a big enough town where there is PLENTY to do, but small enough where it is still a quaint town in Ireland with history and culture. Most people come out of studying abroad with friends for life that were fellow Americans also studying abroad, but by studying in Ireland I came out with American friends for life as well as Irish friends. I feel that I truly got the full Irish experience because I became friends with so many Irish people in my class because they are so welcoming, friendly, and there is no language barrier. By being friends with Irish students, I learned so much more about their traditions and culture than I could have ever imagined of learning in school or by myself.
I knew traveling to other parts of Europe was a big aspect of what I wanted to do while studying abroad but I was a little nervous that I would not make it to everywhere I wanted because Ireland is not connected to the rest of Europe. Fortunately, that was not a problem at all. I was able to travel on the weekends to numerous places in Europe with ease, such as: Belgium, the Netherlands, England, Scotland, Northern Ireland, Norway, Sweden, and Denmark. I also met numerous students visiting Galway that were studying abroad in other popular European cities such as: Barcelona, Amsterdam, and Dublin and said numerous times that they genuinely wished they studied abroad in Galway.
Studying abroad has made me more independent, confident, and willing to try new things, but studying abroad in Ireland has made me have a different outlook on life. I left Ireland feeling so much happier and content with life. Before Ireland, I used to worry and panic over the smallest things in life that I shouldn’t think twice about. Now I have realized what is important in life and what is worth spending time on.
SUNY Albany was extremely helpful with providing check sheets to make sure I submitted all of the necessary paperwork, had everything I would need to pack, and what to expect when I actually arrived in Ireland. SUNY Albany was there to help through every step of the process even after I returned home to New York.
After looking back on this experience, I genuinely could not be any happier with my decision to study abroad, especially in Ireland. I can honestly say that Galway will always be a second home to me and I am counting down until the next time I can go back. Galway, Ireland has positively impacted my life forever and I cannot thank SUNY Albany enough for making this life-changing experience possible.