While looking for universities to spend a semester away from my homeland of the United States, my main focus became finding programs that would also allow me to earn credits through history and geography courses that would transfer back to my home university. I searched through distant places, particularly in India, but I discovered that University College Cork would allow the greatest ease for transfer credits with my home institution. In a last-minute decision, I decided to choose UCC to spend a semester.
Yes, it was an excellent decision. I was not focusing on Europe originally, because I did not want to have a 'cliche European semester abroad', and I did not find that in Cork. The city itself is incredible--wonderful history and unique culture, with very easy-to-converse-with people that made every second thought about choosing to spend a semester in Europe disappear. While some people did have the 'classic European experience' I wanted to avoid--going to clubs every night and taking selfies--I found many other local people, that i felt it was easy to break away from staying with other Americans.
When I arrived, I took an excellent three-week immersive course on the history of modern Ireland, as part of the Early Start Programme, and believe that was extremely worth it. I found I was able to connect more personally with Cork after learning about its history, and I got all of the beginning concerns about foreign living out of the way by the time actual classes started. I found my modules during the semester to be simpler, but I enjoyed the content. I managed my studies well and miraculously had almost a month of free time between my coursework and my exams, so I decided to visit somewhere new. I found that far and distant land I was looking for in Tunisia, in an inexpensive flight from Dublin, through Paris, to Tunis. I traveled by myself and backpacked around the country for a considerable amount of time, learning about the country's incredible history, hiking, and conversing with very amazing people.
UCC and Cork are wonderful places, and they provided a great springboard for me to learn and see some other places as well!