GoAbroad Interview

Lisa Kehoe - International Cultural Program Coordinator 

Lisa Kehoe - International Cultural Program Coordinator

Lisa has worked in international education for over 10 years. She started her career as a high school teacher in Japan and the United Arab Emirates, and moved into higher education upon her return to Ireland.  At the University College of Dublin Lisa organises cultural events and trips for study abroad students and coordinates faculty led programs.

What inspired you to pursue a career in international education?

While I was a student I had the opportunity to live abroad and it expanded my horizons, developed my confidence and made me much more independent. The programs I participated in were extremely well organised and I had very positive experiences. I decided a career in international education was right for me because I want to support international students in making the most of their study abroad experience, and ensure they have just as good a time or even better.

River Liffey, Dublin city center
The river that divides Dublin city center into two: the North side and the South side.

How did you settle into your current role at the University College Dublin?

It was very easy to settle into my current role at UCD. The international office has such a warm and friendly atmosphere that you feel at home straight away.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

My favourite part of my job is when we host a really successful event and we see friendships form between our study abroad students and our Irish students. We host events or trips almost weekly.

University College of Dublin international students
International students on a cultural trip during their semester at UCD

What is your best piece of advice for students traveling to UCD to study? 

Get involved!  There is so much happening on campus and in Dublin, the choices are endless.  Whatever your interest is you are bound to find it already happening on campus and if not, somewhere in Dublin.  UCD has the second busiest bus depot in Dublin which makes the city centre really accessible so there are no excuses.

What makes Ireland a unique place to study abroad?

Ireland is a great place for students to study abroad. It is extremely friendly and welcoming, there is a huge amount to see and do but yet Dublin is not an intimidating size. There is a great mix of outdoor life and city living. In the morning you could be hitting the shops, hiking in the afternoon and going to a gig in town the same night.

University College of Dublin study abroad students on field trip
One of UCD’s cultural trips, which are free for semester study abroad students

Why is experiencing life in another country and culture a valuable learning experience, in your opinion?

Experiencing life in another country and culture opens your eyes. You begin to notice even more around you and it really makes you appreciate your own culture and home too.

How do you help prepare students for their time at UCD? What kind of challenges do you anticipate?

All of our study abroad students have a member of staff dedicated to helping them throughout their experience. This contact is with them from the time of application right until they say their farewells. The campus is rather large but our study abroad students use the Global Lounge as a hub so if they ever get confused we are here to support them or they can just hang out with our Global Guides.

The Global Lounge, University College of Dublin
The Global Lounge, where international and Irish students hang out.  It is also a great place for study abroad students to drop by if they have any questions.

Experiencing cultural immersion is an important part of studying abroad. What kind of opportunities does UCD provide for study abroad students to help them get involved in Irish culture? 

Nearly every week we host an event for our Study Abroad students. Three of my favourites included:

  1. Experience Gaelic Games:  This gives our study abroad students the opportunity to learn about Irish sports (GAA) but also to learn how to play the sports. The session is taught by Irish students who coach the UCD GAA teams and play the sports at a top level.
  2. My first Gaelige: In our student accommodation we have a number of apartments that are solely for Irish speaking students (Gaeilgeoir). During ‘My First Gaelige’ the study abroad students have the opportunity to meet the Gaeilgeoir who teach them some basics of the Irish language. They have a traditional dinner together followed by entertainment from champion Irish musicians and dancers.
  3. Trad Sessions: On campus we have a huge amount of clubs and societies. The Traditional Irish Music Society is one of my favourites.  Every semester we organise a session with the society at which they play the finest Irish music, eat pizza and mingle with our study abroad students. It is a really chilled event with the opportunity to hear some great Irish music and meet local students.