Lisa Sullivan - 2015 Program Participant
Why did you apply to an international program?
I was set to graduate a semester early, and I decided that instead of finishing school, I would take that extra semester and study abroad. I was afraid that once I left school my biggest regret would have been that I never took the opportunity to study abroad, and now I know that would have been the biggest regret of my life.
Why did you choose IES Abroad?
It was the only program that both offered a creative writing program and an internship opportunity in an area that I was interested in. IES Abroad had everything that I was looking for.
Experiencing Oktoberfest in Munich
What was your favorite part about working in Ireland?
Dublin is the perfect size city, making it possible to get to know it within four months. You can walk almost everywhere, and when you want to get away for the weekend, seaside towns are only a quick train ride away.
What made your experience unique?
My program was brand new when I studied abroad, but aside from that, it allowed me to study creative writing in one of the world's UNESCO cities of literature. It was hard not to be inspired when you're surrounded by the influence of great Irish writers.
How would you describe the local IES Abroad staff?
They were more than just teachers and advisors; they were friends. I really felt like I could go to them with any problem I had, and they would have helped me find a solution. They were one of the greatest aspects of my experience.
Taking the obligatory phone booth picture in London
Is there anything you wish you could change about your experience?
I wish I had gotten to know more of the locals. Being in a program with only American students made it hard to get to know my Irish peers.
Describe an average day for you in Dublin.
In the mornings, I usually interned before class, and then I would walk back to the centre, where we had classes. Classes were around two-and-a-half hours long, but they were only once a week, and the time went by fast because the content was interesting. There was also a ten-minute break halfway through class so that we could drink some tea and refresh. After classes, I usually ate dinner with my roommates, and if we were feeling up for it, we would go to a pub.
What did you enjoy doing on your free time?
My favorite activity was traveling around. During my time there, my friends and I got to visit a few different countries in Europe as well as different parts of Ireland, and every place was just as beautiful as the last.
How was your accommodation in Dublin? What did you like most about it?
I lived in a two-bedroom apartment with three other roommates. We were fortunate enough to be able to live in a safe and well-maintained apartment that provided a nice standard of living. Frequently, we would talk about how our apartment was nicer than we thought it would be. It was also nice to live with other students in my program because we really got to know each other over the four months.
What was the biggest shocker for you when you arrived in Dublin?
What surprised me most about Dublin was how easy it was to get to know the city. Within the first week, I knew how to find my way to the city centre, and after visiting other major European cities, I got to see how small Dublin actually was. As someone who comes from a small town, I never thought it was possible for a city to feel like home, but it was definitely easy to feel at home in Dublin.
What is one thing you wish you would have known before studying abroad in Ireland?
I wish I would have known all I would do before I left so that I could better plan my time and try to fit in more things that I wasn’t able to do before I left. I also wish I knew that I was capable of living and surviving in a foreign country because boarding the plane was one of the scariest things I’ve ever done, and it would have been comforting to know that everything was going to go perfectly.
Do you have any packing tips for students interested in studying in Dublin?
The best thing I brought was waterproof hiking boots, which came in handy whenever we walked along paths throughout the country which were often muddy or wet. The shoes were very useful whenever it rained. It is also important to know that many American toiletry brands are available in Dublin, but the selection isn’t very large, so if you have something specific you like to use, bring that along. I use specific shampoo, and I was glad I brought mine because I couldn’t find it anywhere in Dublin.
What was the biggest lesson you learned during your time in Ireland?
I feel like I know more about the world now. It's easy, if you only stay in the States, to believe that the world revolves around the States, but once you leave and visit somewhere else where you are an outsider, you get to take off that blindfold. It really opens your eyes to learn about a history and culture that is just as rich and just as important as your own. Now that I'm home, my mind feels split between what I'm doing here and what I would be doing there; a part of me has never and will never leave Dublin.
Would you recommend IES Abroad to other students?
I would. The staff in Dublin were amazing, and the internship IES Abroad provided me with was a great opportunity that will be beneficial for my future.
If you could study abroad again, where would you go?
I would either go to London, because I fell in love with the city in the four days I spent there, or I would go somewhere in Germany, because I’m a German minor and studying abroad is the best way to learn a foreign language.