Caeli Quiter - 2015 Program Participant
Aran Islands off the west coast of Ireland
What inspired you to study abroad?
I have always wanted to reconnect with my family in Ireland. My grandma made sure that our family grew up in an Irish lifestyle, full of Irish dance, memorizing traditional Irish tunes, and telling us stories about her parents who immigrated to the U.S. from Ireland. I have always known that I would study abroad somewhere in Ireland and I would do anything to make that happen.
Why did you choose IES Abroad?
I chose IES Abroad because they are affiliated with the University of Rochester. It was extremely feasible to maneuver through the application process with experts on IES Abroad in our study abroad department.
What was your favorite part about Dublin?
Dublin was the hub for everything. Any place in Ireland that you wanted to get to, there was a bus for that. The city is also teeming with students and youth, so there was a very liberating feel to it all. People were constantly on the move and there was always something to check out or to take part in.
What surprised you most about Dublin?
I was actually very surprised to find that Dublin City Centre quickly turns into a very suburban area (where I lived in the northern part). One minute you’re in a bustling city with buses, trams, and spectacular churches, and the next minute you are in a very quiet and orderly neighborhood.
What made your program experience unique?
Ireland is known for its hospitable nature, so having people come right up to you and assist you with directions to a particular restaurant or bus stop was very comforting. I also liked the fact that Dublin City University was an actual campus and welcomed international students with open arms. They really helped make the transition process very manageable and quick.
How did the local IES Abroad staff support you throughout your time in Dublin?
The IES Abroad girls were fantastic! They always checked up on us and told us the best sweets shops to look out for. They were very knowledgeable about the program and DCU itself, which made them fantastic connections to keep in touch with often.
What's one thing you wish you would have done differently?
I wish I took the time to learn to cook while I had the chance. Eating pasta, grilled cheese, and cereal (sometimes in that order) was not necessarily the healthiest route. I lived in Shanowen Square, a five-minute walk from DCU, and it came equipped with a full kitchen. The times I did try to cook, I ended up with raw or overcooked food. When that did happen, nothing was wrong with grabbing some of the food on campus!
Describe a day in the life of your program.
I would usually start my day off with toast and yogurt in the kitchen and head to class for a few hours. After classes ended for the day, I would head off to rugby practice at St. Clare's (about a fifteen minute walk from campus) for two hours to get my workout in and to see my rugby buddies. I would come back and attempt to cook one of the aforementioned products for dinner. In the night time, my roommates and I would head to the city centre for some drinks or a bag of six donuts for four euro at The Rolling Donut on O'Connell Street.
What did you enjoy doing on your free time in Dublin?
Since I am a casual and non-competitive Irish dancer, I decided to take adult Irish dance lessons near Drumcondra Station (a ten minute bus ride from where I lived). It was a fantastic way to continue something I learned back at home and to dance with actual Irish locals!
Tell us more about your accommodation.
As mentioned before, I lived in Shanowen Square, which is full of DCU students. It's a five-minute walk to campus and is extremely safe. It has a gate with a security code to both the gate and your specific building. The apartments are fit for four residents, who each get their own bedroom and bathroom. A kitchen and furniture are also supplied. Shanowen Square was close to everything, like the grocery store, the Spar (which saved our midnight cravings of chips and salsa), and several bus stops.
Do you have any packing tips for individuals headed to Dublin?
Bring your rain boots and a very sturdy raincoat. Also, bring something little from home that will bring back good memories. If you think you are bringing too much, you are bringing too much. If you don’t think you are bringing enough, you are probably still bringing too much.
What is one thing you wish you would have known before studying abroad in Ireland?
I would have liked to have told myself that it ends quickly! While I was there, I went through phase of oblivion. Would I ever return home? Will I make friends here? How much time do I have left? The best thing to do is to just go with the flow and not think about how long it has been or how much time you have left. Since I have returned home, the whole thing feels like a dream. It was the fastest semester I have ever endured (also, the greatest semester of my life).
What do you feel the biggest benefit of studying abroad is?
It is different for everyone. I was told not to go abroad in hopes of “finding myself.” Once I was there, I used my new sociocultural experiences as a way to “create myself.” I did not notice any changes while I was abroad, but now that I am home there are many new parts to my personality that I have added on that make me a much happier person.
What was the hardest part about studying abroad?
The most difficult part for me was the social aspect. I didn’t recognize any faces on campus and my immediate family and close friends weren’t there to comfort me when I was homesick. This sort of thing happens in any new environment though. The best part about this difficulty was that I realized just how fantastic my friends and family were while I was away. I received an entire package full of chocolate from my college buds, and my friends and family consistently kept up with me and made sure I was always happy. All in all, the hardest part turned into one of the greatest realizations.
How do you see your experiences abroad impact your life at home?
Coming home is when you realize how much study abroad affected you. My independence has skyrocketed and my ability to voice my thoughts has amplified to a healthy extent that I never thought I possessed. It was all in me the whole time.
Sometimes you need a little world exploration to uncover the true you.
Would you recommend IES Abroad to other students?
I would highly recommend IES Abroad to everyone. From my experiences they made sure all of my questions were answered before I left (and there were very many of those), they set me up with a fantastic living situation, and they made sure to give us a thorough orientation with many follow-ups throughout the semester. I cannot thank them enough for how well they treated me.
If you could study abroad again, where would you go?
I would love to travel to a non-European location, such as New Zealand or Peru to gain even more geographical and cultural perspectives. But, there’s that giant piece of my heart that belongs to Ireland. Perhaps I would choose a new county, like Galway or Cork, to experience the west coast and to eventually finish my Irish bucket list.