Kirsten Roy - 2015 Program Participant

Why did you decide to apply for an international program?

I'd never been outside of the U.S. and was encouraged by my professors to study abroad. After thinking about it, I realized that I'd probably never have the chance to study in another country again, so I went for it!

Why did you choose CAPA International Education? 

My school is affiliated with CAPA, so my scholarships would transfer; this was important because I wanted to be sure I could afford my semester abroad. I also have always wanted to go to Ireland because I'd heard so many great things about the people and the country in general. CAPA had a Dublin program that was fairly new and the organization as a whole had received great reviews, so I finally decided to study in Dublin with CAPA.

The Cliffs of Moher in Ireland

Cliffs of Moher, Ireland

What was your favorite part about Dublin?

My favorite part about studying in Dublin was that it was very easy to get into the city to explore, but was also incredibly easy to get outside of the city to take day trips in the beautiful Irish countryside.

What makes CAPA’s Dublin program unique?

The program I participated in was unique, especially compared to the other locations CAPA offers, because it was relatively new, so not many people participated. There were 18 people in the program from all over the U.S., and since it was so small we all got to know each other well.

What surprised you most about Dublin?

I was most surprised by how short the buildings were. I expected to feel overwhelmed by the tall buildings in the city, but from my classes and speaking with locals I learned that Dublin builds out, not up. The tallest building in the city was not incredibly tall. I was also surprised by the architecture in the city. There would be an old building right next to a new and very modern-looking building.

How did local staff support you throughout your program? 

The local staff was always ready to help. If I had any problems (emotional, physical, etc.) they were there to talk to and give recommendations. They also made it a point to see how the students in the program were doing by holding "Tea at CAPA" each week; during this time students in the program and the local staff sat together with a warm drink just to chat and catch up.

What's one thing you wish you would have done differently?

I wish I had been a little more open to the experience during my first month. Having never been away from home before, I was incredibly homesick and let that get to me. After the first month I realized what an amazing opportunity studying abroad was and decided to just enjoy it. I really wish I'd made that realization within the first few days.

Describe a day in the life of your program.

During weekdays I would attend my classes, many of which were through CAPA. These classes only lasted about three to four hours total during the day, so the rest of the day was spent with friends and exploring the city. Weekends were always busy; my friends and I would either go into the city to spend the day, take day trips to explore other parts of Ireland, or plan longer trips to other countries. Days when I was not exploring I was spending time with friends. There was never a dull moment!

What was your favorite thing to do outside the normal day-to-day schedule of your program?

My favorite activities outside of the normal day-to-day schedule were definitely taking trips, whether it was within Ireland or to another country. I found a new love of traveling and exploration from going abroad.

What is one thing you wish you would have known before studying abroad in Dublin?

I wish I had known what time of day my classes were when choosing my schedule. I was not used to evening classes and most of my classes were in the evening while abroad.

What type of accommodation did you have? What did you like best about it?

I lived in an apartment on campus with three roommates from CAPA. I liked that I was accommodated with my living arrangements and did not have to concern myself with paying rent while trying to enjoy my time abroad.

Do you have any packing tips for other students headed to Dublin?

When packing for Dublin I did not pack enough cold-weather clothing. I definitely underestimated how chilly I would feel and ended up having to buy a lot of warm clothing. Pack prepared for the weather! I also brought notebooks and school supplies, which were mostly unnecessary. I would suggest not bringing items that can be purchased relatively cheaply while in Ireland. I also suggest leaving room for souvenirs! I did not do this and had to leave some items from home in Ireland.

Street art in Dublin, Ireland

Dublin street art

What was the hardest part about studying abroad?

The most difficult part of studying while abroad was focusing. With so many places to explore and so many new things to experience, it often got difficult to remember that I was there to study abroad, so I was easily distracted from my work.

What do you feel the biggest benefit of studying abroad is?

The biggest benefit of studying abroad is definitely getting out of your comfort zone. It makes you more open to new experiences and leaves you wanting adventure. If I had not gone abroad I would have remained in my shell for years. Going abroad gave me more confidence.

Now that you're home, how has studying abroad impacted your life?

I am definitely more open to new experiences than I was before going abroad. If I had not gone abroad I am sure that I would have been stuck in my shell for a very long time. Going abroad enabled me to get out of my comfort zone and discover that I have a love for travel and exploration and meeting new people. I cannot wait until I can go to a new place again!

Would you recommend CAPA International Education to other students?

I definitely would (and have) recommend CAPA International Education to other students. I liked how the staff made sure to keep track of how students were doing and where students were traveling without smothering them. The program is well-run!