Student sketches trials of study abroad


Disclaimer: I swear I am happy to be studying abroad in Ireland, but there is a less exciting and more realistic side that no one told me until I began the study abroad process and landed here.

Planning a study abroad is a lot like having an extra three-credit course the semester before you leave. It is also a process to settle into a new country. Not that going abroad isn’t worth the trouble, but there are a few false fairytales that need to be illuminated.

First, qualifying and getting all the materials together to study abroad is daunting and time consuming. Start early. If you want to go abroad, find Meagan McHugh (just to the left of Knight’s Cove) and start planning immediately.

See what forms you need to fill out, and what scholarships there are. Even if it ends up that you are not able to travel, starting the process early is the best possible way to get there. By the time I realized how many scholarships were out there for students to apply for, all of the deadlines had past.

Getting classes in order is a massive part of preparing. Ireland is much more relaxed in the course scheduling, so I was not able to make my class schedule until I was actually here, a week before the start of the semester.

Every possible course option has to be approved, with three separate signatures and detailed course comparisons. No one holds your hand or guides you through course options.

Get ready to spend a lot of time pouring over course guides. Second, it is not all magic and “life-changing experiences.” I am going in on my third week of being in Ireland and it is only now starting to feel at ease and ready for adventure.

Being in a new country and not knowing a soul is not easy, but I also wasn’t the only one in that boat. I am the only Gannon student currently at Mary Immaculate College.

While I do love the adventure of going off on my own, having someone to get lost with while looking for the grocery store would be nice.

Many of the international students came with other students from their colleges, but a small handful did come alone. It feels similar to the first few weeks of freshman year, making new friends and praying that someone knows where to find a store that sells cellphone chargers.

Luckily, the Irish with their notoriously kind and helpful ways have been there to help me find my way to Aldi (they have those here, too!) Now, a few weeks into settling in, I am beginning to see the culture and fall into a rhythm. It is not an easy process, but all signs point to it all being worth the stress in the end.

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