I always pictured myself traveling after I graduated college, but after seeing so many people say that and not go through with it, I knew I needed to travel before I graduated so I could establish myself instead of taking time off after graduating. Study abroad was the perfect fit; being able to study and travel at the same time allowed me to kill two birds with one stone!
Why did you choose the Knowledge Exchange Institute?
My home institution was affiliated with two programs going to Ireland, both programs were similar but I ultimately choose KEI because of their reviews, positive conversation with their staff, and their program reputation.
What was your favorite part about Dublin?
I had never lived in a large city such as Dublin before, so it was all new. I learned how to use public transportation and maneuver the city in other ways. I loved the environment in Dublin, the people were so nice and each restaurant and shop had a unique style. It did not take long for Dublin to feel like my home!
What surprised you most about Dublin?
The difference between the north and south sides of the city is what surprised me most. There is a very clear divide of the city because of the River Liffey. The north side was full of shops and more modern things, whereas the south side had more pubs and restaurant and had the temple bar tourist area. The people were seen as different, and even had different accents.
What made your experience abroad unique?
Griffith College Dublin was an international school, so not only did I meet local students from Dublin, but other students from many other parts of Europe, especially Germany and France.
The excursions for the program are also amazing! We basically went on a custom tour of Ireland that took three days and stopped at all the major spots in Ireland. It is hard to do this without renting a car, so this was a great experience and way to see the country!
How did local staff support you throughout your program?
Olwyn, our on-site director, was amazing! I have nothing but good things to say about her. She was always checking up on us, invited us to local restaurants, wanted to hang out and really get to know us, and see how we were doing! If we had any questions, she would always have the best answers and really wanted us to enjoy our experience.
My professors at Griffith were also very helpful; they were willing to work with us on adjusting to different coursework and were understanding in times when things were different! I met with most of them outside of class and they were great!
What's one thing you wish you would have done differently?
I would have tried to explore doing an internship in my spare time! I think this would have been a great feature to add to my resume and a good experience working in a different country.
Describe a typical day in the life of your program.
During the weekdays, I had around two classes a day, so I would wake up and make or go out to breakfast, and then go to class. I usually had some downtime to do some homework or hangout with friends! During the weekends we spent most times traveling, shopping, and exploring the city.
What did you enjoy doing in your free time?
We got to know the city through walking around and going into places we hadn't seen previously. I spent a lot of time with other study abroad students and international students. I usually did about an hour or two of homework a day and the other time was spent with friends!
What was your accommodation like? What did you like best about it?
I lived in an on-campus apartment. I shared my room with another study abroad student (she was awesome). We had a kitchen, a living room, and a small bathroom. We were able to cook our own meals, which was a nice way to save some money! Living on-campus was really nice.
Do you have any packing tips for individuals headed to Ireland?
It really does not rain as much as you think, at least not during the spring! But always pack a good rain jacket and rain boots just in case, just have clothes for those nice sunny days too! Pack light too, because European style is awesome and mostly affordable, so get rid of some old clothes before you go and fill up on new ones while you are abroad!
What is your best piece of advice for future participants of your program?
Know which classes you want to choose and have lots of backups in case something happens or you can't get into the classes. This is the most important part (getting into the right classes), so you don't have to figure everything out when you get back.
What is one thing you wish you would have known before studying abroad in Ireland?
I wish I would have done more research on the history of Ireland, so that it wouldn’t have been as hard to take in all the new information I would be told at every sightseeing opportunity. It was hard to remember everything I was taught at each place because I had no prior knowledge and was going to so many new places. I often tried to write down notes, but that still wasn’t enough for me to remember all the information about each new place.
What was the hardest part about studying abroad?
The hardest part was making the decision to leave my friends and the beginning and end of the program. The decision to leave everything that I had known and a comfortable place was hard, but I knew I wanted to see the world and experience new things. The beginning (arriving in Dublin) was hard as well, adjusting to life in a new country with people I’ve never met and unfamiliar things.
But worst of all was leaving; it was the end that was the hardest part! I felt like the city had become my home and I was comfortable there and then I had to go back home.
Now that you're home, how has your program abroad impacted your life?
I want to travel more! Certain things are different, such as I feel more confident and independent.
What do you feel the biggest benefit of studying abroad is?
Gaining independence and making connections with people from all across the world. I can easily say that I am more independent and could confidently move to another city knowing I would be able to adjust to their normalities. It is also interesting to see a university system in a new country and compare the similarities and differences between the courses and the students compared to my home university.
Would you recommend Knowledge Exchange Institute to others? Why?
Yes! They provide everything you need and are a great resource.
If you could study abroad again, where would you go?
I would go to South America, Australia, or Europe again. If I were to study abroad again, I would also look into internship options.
Kendall is a senior at Central Washington University, where she is studying recreation, tourism, and event planning, and will be graduating in Spring 2017. She was born and raised in Spokane, Washington. Kendall’s trip to Ireland with KEI was her first time traveling outside the United States, but she went to eight different countries while abroad.