About My Study Abroad Program
Major/Minor: Biology major, Chem minor, Medical Anthropology minor
Program: Summer 2022 Science in Dublin
Location: Dublin, Ireland
Term: Summer 2022
Why did you choose to study abroad and how did you select your program?
Studying abroad was always an interest of mine because of my cultural background. I am the daughter of two immigrants, so diversity has always been a part of my life, but I had never experienced traveling alone. I love the idea of learning about new cultures and living in someplace new, as I believe that travel is one of the only truly foolproof ways to get to know yourself. I also jumped at the opportunity to participate in a study abroad for STEM majors, as they are somewhat rare. I first learned about this program on the first day of my CHEM 101 class during the first semester of my freshman year. I had written the name of the program down as my professor mentioned it, and filed the idea in the back of my brain for a while. In the spring, I revisited the idea and applied without knowing anyone else interested in it. It was truly the best decision of my life.
What did you learn about yourself?
I learned so much through this experience. Traveling alone for the first time really put so much responsibility on my shoulders, as I was in charge of figuring everything out, from transportation, to food, to activities to fill up my time. Of course I was not completely alone, as the program leaders were super helpful, but there were no parents around to hold my hand through the process or any close friends with me to consult with. On the first day of the program, I met a group of girls that quickly became some of my closest friends. Without them, I probably would have had such a different experience, but I am so lucky that I met them. Everyone quickly found people to connect with and everyone became a family overnight. I learned the true importance of friendship and relationships when you are traveling. Having people to explore a new place with is so rewarding, and made it so much easier to get outside and explore Ireland. I learned how to study and keep up with my classes while balancing a great personal life. Most importantly, I learned how much I love Ireland. I never expected to be so awestruck by a place I had never really heard much about. It taught me that there are so many places in the world worth exploring, in places where you least expect it.
What is one of your favorite memories from your program?
One of my favorite memories from the program was taking the Dublin train with my peers to a nearby town on the coast of Ireland and taking a swim in the freezing cold water as a sort of "polar plunge." It was a gorgeous view at Killiney Beach, and it greatly resembled the coasts of Italy. The water was breathtaking and we had so much fun getting in the water and braving the cold for a cool new experience. We ended our day trip by eating at a local restaurant, where we ate bagel sandwiches and topped the meal off with gelato before heading back to Dublin. It was an unforgettable experience that I will cherish for the rest of my life. I have so many more stories and favorite memories that I would love to share, and it is so hard to pick just one to talk about.
What advice do you have for future study abroad students?
I would tell future students that face uncertainties while abroad to first focus on getting to know the peers who are abroad with you. Having people from your home country to talk to is so important for safety and enjoyment of the trip. As soon as you can, put yourself out there in meeting others in the program, and do not be afraid to talk to everyone, because they are all in the same boat as you. Everyone is looking to make friends and meet people, so just talk to them! Second, I would say that keeping busy is important as well. You want to take advantage of every second you are abroad, so get outside! Do not spend too much time in your housing, as you can get stuck inside. Rather, take a walk! Plan a day trip! Take some friends and go see a theater show! There are so many places and events going on in these new places, and you will make the most of your program by exploring them! Lastly, try to get to know the place where you are studying abroad. Immerse yourself in the culture you are in. Talk to locals and visit landmarks. Just remember how lucky you are to be there, and think of it as the last time you are in that city. Try to make the most of your time there, even if you do it alone. You will always find comfort in the city. You have the advantage of anonymity. No one in the city knows who you are, so get out there!