Katelynn is a 19 year old from a small town in Northern Michigan. She is currently a junior at Hope College in Holland, Michigan, where she is majoring in communications and minoring in writing.Interviewed on - 25 August 2015
I decided to apply for an international program because I have always wanted to travel and experience a new culture. The opportunity to study in another country seemed like the perfect chance to explore a new country, meet new people, and fully immerse myself into a new culture.
I chose IES Abroad because of staff and the program itself. I really liked the fact that IES Abroad took us on field trips throughout the semester with other IES Abroad students; these ended up being some of the highlights of my semester abroad. Also, the staff was so helpful in answering any question I had and made me feel very comfortable about my decision to study abroad. IES Abroad also had a direct enrollment program at DCU, which is exactly what I wanted to be a part of.
The campus of DCU was only a twenty to thirty minute bus ride from city centre and it was a pretty convenient location. I liked being a bit out of the city centre, but being close enough to always be able to have to option of getting there in no time.
I think the community at IES Abroad makes it very unique. The field trips really bonded together all the IES Abroad students, even those who went to different schools. We also really got to know the IES Abroad staff, and they made our experience wonderfully personal.
The staff was amazing throughout the program. They were always there to answer any question, whether through email, text, or in person.
The staff made sure that they really got to know each student and it was amazing to have them support you so much throughout all the changes and ups and downs of studying abroad.
The one thing I would've done differently is I would've gotten involved in more activities at DCU.
A typical day would involve going to classes (depending on the day), then going into the city centre in the evening for food, and usually end up hanging out in an Irish pub and getting to experience Irish culture first hand.
I really enjoyed being able to travel all around Europe so easily. The flights were very cheap and very short, so it was exciting to be able to go to a new country or city each weekend.
I lived in an apartment complex that was about five minutes off campus. It was super nice because I had my own bedroom and bathroom, so the privacy was really nice. I had a common room and kitchen that I shared with three other students (in my case it was three other girls who were in my program).
I have to say that the hardest part about studying abroad was going to a place where I didn't know anyone or anything about the culture. I found that to be very intimidating for the first few weeks and at various times throughout my time abroad.
The thing that surprised me most about Ireland is how many people use public transport. I come from a small town with virtually no public transportation, so that was very surprising to me. But, it was super easy to figure out and was by far the easiest way to get around.
One thing I wish I had known before going to Ireland is that it is very similar to the U.S. I had thought that a different country would be completely different. However, the food, clothes, music, and schooling systems were very similar to those in America.
Ireland was different enough to make for an exciting experience, but still had similarities I could find if I wanted to.
I think the biggest benefit of studying abroad is the personal growth that is gained. It was crazy how a semester abroad makes you feel so much more confident in a foreign country and even your home country. You learn a lot about yourself when you're completely on your own whether just for a few days or for an extended trip somewhere else.
Packing tips for individuals headed to Ireland would be to definitely bring rain proof shoes and a rain jacket. Don't bring rain boots (only the tourists wear them), but it will rain a lot so bring shoes that can survive getting wet for long periods of time. A rain jacket is a must when traveling around and be sure to layer it with warmer coats underneath.
I think my program really has opened my eyes to the world around me and definitely widened my views of different cultures and lives outside of the United States. I've made friends with some of the most amazing people and I've met people who have truly changed my life. I can't imagine ever going abroad with any program besides IES Abroad.
I would highly recommend IES Abroad to other students. They were so helpful with pre-departure tips for both me and my parents which made the decision to study abroad much easier. Also, once in Ireland, they constantly checked up on us and made sure we created a tight knit family while abroad.
If I could study abroad again I would love to go back to Ireland. However, after visiting Germany for a few days, I would love to study abroad there and immerse myself in German culture in somewhere near Munich.