As my departure date for Dublin draws near, I find myself spending more time thinking about the experience and what I wish to gain from it. Traveling to a foreign country, I know I maintain the traditional goals of experiencing a different culture, meeting new friends, and gaining a unique perspective; however, I also would like to set higher expectations for myself. Coming from a small town in Pennsylvania and then attending the University of Michigan where I self-admittedly have stuck to my comfort zones, I hope to push my boundaries and work to understand how those in a different country live, learn, and think. I wish to immerse myself in the Irish culture and learn directly from the mouths of the Irish how they go about and experience life.
As an American in a foreign land, I must remember to be respectful and abide by their society’s conventions, never wishing to offend those who I am trying to learn from. Though we are from different countries and cultures, I am confident I will be able to relate to these new people and introduce them to new ideas while they do the same for me. I know this journey I’m about to embark on will be rich in experiences, and I hope to push myself to extract the most from it as possible.
As has already been mentioned, there are quite a few differences during the Ireland study abroad experience from studying at home, but often these are good and important. The classroom culture, I suppose, is much like that of large schools in America during lectures. The main difference, however, would probably be that participation during tutorials is much harder to come by in Ireland. I have found on occasion that I have to ‘force’ myself to participate just to end the awkward silence after a question is asked and no one is answering. So here, there are obvious positives and negatives.
As far as how things are outside the classroom, getting around town is easy enough. A bus goes right from the campus into the city centre, and from there, it is easy enough to either walk, find a cab, take another bus, or for particularly long destinations, taking the trains, all of which I have found to be very well kept and operated. Once you get to where you need to go, pubs obviously aren’t hard to find, and the food, especially fish and chips, is wonderful.
Finally, it is important to go over holidays. During the fall semester, there is really only the October 31st Bank Holiday, which also happens to be Halloween. During this four day weekend, I took a train from Dublin to Sligo to stay with some family for a while, and had a great time experiencing the beautiful sights and ‘true’ Irish culture outside of the big city.
When traveling to any foreign country, one of the most common things for travelers to consciously pick up on are the typical cultural habits of the people of their new country. This can often lead to culture shock, with people becoming frustrated with how things are done, either because of a lack of understanding, having adapted to a particular way of going about things, and being wary of change, or maybe there are legitimate reasons from time to time for such frustrations to occur. Read more
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. Read more
Today Dublin celebrates the life of Irish writer, James Joyce by reliving the events of his famous novel, Ulysses, which took place on June 16th, 1904. Joyce’s alma mater, University College Dublin, is particularly excited to celebrate this day.
In honor of their famous alum, UCD established the department of Joycean Studies at the university. Study Abroad students are encouraged to look into these courses and other course offerings in the English department at UCD. Here are some sample English courses: Read more
Being abroad is much harder than I had ever anticipated. There are the logistics to work out, places to adjust to, and people to meet and befriend. For me, particularly in the beginning, it was hard to become accustomed to my new environment, mostly because change is almost always difficult for me. However, now I am approaching the halfway point of my experience and I feel that I have fully adjusted to the Irish culture and thing things it has to offer. Although, some days are still difficult; I often miss my family, friends, and home institution but the things that I have seen and the people that I have met make it all worth the few struggles! Since embarking on my journey in Ireland, and having had the opportunity to see and meet new people and places, I have attained a better appreciation for home, as well as an improved insight about my own self. Read more
I have been in Ireland just about five weeks now and it feels as if I have stories that could last a life time! I always knew that studying in Ireland would be one of the greatest experiences of my life, and so far I’d say it is living up to my high expectations. I have considered myself very lucky to have encountered certain people on my journey, those including my housemates, their friends, and even my classmates. Through some of these people I have met many other students and they have exposed me to things that I could never find at home. And one of my new friends has even brought me to her home in Limerick where I have been treated with the utmost hospitality. I had assumed that the Irish were kind and welcoming people and the ones I have met so far a proving this assumption right! Not only have I met great people but I have already seen some magnificent locations in Ireland as well. In the first six weeks of my adventure abroad I have seen parts of Galway, the Aran Islands, Dublin, Limerick, Kerry, Clare, and obviously Cork as well. Each of these places held their own secrets, displayed their different histories, and presented their individual beauties. There were things that I saw and did that I will cherish forever in my heart and one day I hope to share some of the things I have seen with the people I love. Read more