The Road Across the Pond
One may participate in a study abroad program for a variety of reasons. Perhaps because it is an excellent opportunity to learn about another culture, to find a vastly different perspective in the field they are studying, or simply because it can feel like being on vacation while working to further your education. All of these reasons apply to why I wished to study abroad at University College Dublin in Ireland, along with more personal reasons, such as having family in the Republic of Ireland, being a dual citizen of both the United States and the Republic, and my grandfather having graduated from this very University. With my natural excitement for what awaits me, I also fully understand the challenges I will likely face, and what I ultimately hope to gain from this experience.
I, nor anyone else, should go into this program expecting it to be very easy. Personally, the large, assembly hall classes common in UCD, and any such large school, will all be new to me. In the smaller Dowling College, I am far more accustomed to small classes, very rarely surpassing thirty students. Additionally, I am more used to rather frequent assessments of my progress, whereas classes at UCD often will have only one test at the end of the semester to base ones grade on. This situation is relatable to all other students attending UCD after coming from a small school, but even students who already have the experience of large Universities will have to face the challenge of a different educational system. From issues as seemingly small as listening to a professor speaking a different accent than one is accustomed to, to more significant changes, such as getting accustomed to how papers and tests are graded while fitting in to a new culture, all study abroad students can relate to.
The possible issues that have been mentioned, along with any others, should be kept in mind as we are all excited for an enjoyable and enlightening experience, not to become scared, but to be prepared. The biggest opportunity to be gained from this is to learn how to adapt on an ever-changing world, and to acknowledge the vastly different points of view that may be offered in one’s field of study in another country. As a Political Science major, I am very eager to be taught in political subjects by a teacher, and a class, with perspectives I probably have not been introduced to. This global perspective will naturally help not just me in Political Science, but any student in any field, to develop a broader understanding of their systems back home.