Andrea Rieth - 2013 Program Participant

A student posing for a photo during a study abroad program in Ireland.

Andrea in Ireland during her study abroad program.

Why did you decide to study abroad during college?

I am lucky enough to have had some experience abroad before college and I knew that I really wanted some more. I wanted to go to an interesting place where I would be surrounded by people who grew up on a different continent and gain some sort of meaningful first-hand experience.

Why did you choose Ireland? Why AIFS?

Ireland is a place that I had never been before and one I was interested in seeing. I liked that they speak English there too and that, because it is an English-speaking country, the options for classes were much greater than most other non-English speaking countries. Also, there is so much to do in Ireland, but this country is close enough to the rest of Europe so it is very feasible to do some additional travelling.

I decided to go to Ireland through the American Institute for Foreign Study (AIFS) because AIFS has a great reputation, offered more excursions than other programs I looked at, and offered a unique flight package which included spending a few days in London before heading to Ireland. They also offered a meal plan and took care of tuition and housing arrangements, which made the process much less stressful.

What was your favorite part about Limerick, Ireland?

My favorite part about Limerick is the people. I have never met so many kind people who are so happy to stop what they're doing to help you find your way. Also they are easy to talk to (once you get used to that accent).

What factors made your study abroad program unique?

Several factors made my program unique. 1) There was an additional trip to London before the program started which gave me the opportunity to see this great city and meet some other students (American) who studied abroad in Ireland as well. 2) Trips throughout the semester were planned such as the Aran islands, Dublin, and the Rings of Kerry. 3) There is a resident director there who is originally from Ireland, who is amazing at helping plan trips and organizing various activities.

What was the staff support like during your program?

My resident director, Elaine, was very warm and welcoming. She was someone to talk to if you were having a rough time and had great suggestions as of where to go and what to do.

What's one thing you wish you had done differently?

I wish I would have stayed for a year and not just a semester.

What was a day in the life of your program like?

A day in the life would be waking up, eating breakfast in a kitchen shared with my roommates (some of whom would eat breakfast with me), going to classes, hanging out with friends I made, and going to university events or practice for rowing/horseback riding depending on the day. There were some weekends where I stayed on campus and did things around Limerick, but I was often travelling during the weekends.

What was your favorite activity outside the normal program scheduling?

I absolutely loved going to the Aran Islands. They are these rustic islands off the coast of Dingle. We went to the smallest one (a population of 300) where we toured around the beach, and saw some really charming landscapes and meet some very friendly people.

What were your accommodations like in Limerick?

I lived in an townhouse style dorm. There were eight individual bedrooms, two bathrooms and a kitchen/common area. I really like the people I shared the house with - I lived with an American boy, a girl from France, another girl from New Zealand, and four Irish boys.

Now that you're home, do you feel that your program abroad has impacted your life in any ways?

It absolutely impacts how I view the world now. I am much more confident at everything I do now than I was prior to leaving. Also I see my American university in a different light and have a changed perspective on everything ranging from friendship dynamics to political issues.