Taylor Haggerty - 2015 Program Participant

Hiking trail from Bray to Greystones in Ireland

The hike from Bray to Greystones, one of my more memorable explorations

What inspired you to apply for an international program? 

I've always seen travel as an important opportunity to explore personal development and learn more about other people. It offers a chance to broaden one's view of the world and learn more in-depth about the things happening outside of a home country.

Why did you choose IES Abroad’s program in Dublin? 

I've always wanted to travel, specifically to see Ireland. My family is from there and it has been very present in my life, from the music my Dad played on long car rides to the very name my parents gave me. I would have done an English program somewhere else, regardless, but Ireland in particular caught my attention, and I was absolutely in love with the idea of visiting it and learning about it at the same time.

What was your favorite part about Ireland? 

The country is small enough that you can travel almost anywhere in less than a day. It's very easy to plan and execute a trip, or even multiple different trips, for the weekend if you're dedicated enough to go through with it. I think that my favorite part of Ireland was getting out as much as I put into the experience.

Girl holding a chicken at Causey Farm in Ireland

The program trip to Causey Farm, where we played with animals of all varieties

What aspect of your program experience made it unique?

The professors! Stephen and Regina were the two that I was lucky enough to study under, and they made a point of weaving what we were learning into the city life itself. Field trips were regular occurrences, and they were always relevant and helpful in understanding the source material. Dublin still has a lot of its history in a format that is accessible to the general public, and getting to interact with it was absolutely the best part of the experience for me.

How did local staff support you throughout your program?

Everyone in the IES Abroad Center was willing to help you make the most of your time abroad. They all had suggestions to make for trips, whether it was a hostel to stay in or a site to visit. They could tell you how long would be best for each city, and they obviously had a lot of experience themselves in traveling. They clearly cared a lot about you as an individual, and everyone wanted you to enjoy their time abroad; you could tell that they were sincere and genuinely kind people.

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

I could definitely have been more productive with my time in the city of Dublin itself. As I spent most weekends in other cities around the country, I needed to spend afternoons and evenings of my weekdays getting to know Dublin, and I'm not entirely sure that I did it justice. I know I did a fair amount, and I'm glad that I took part in everything I did, but there are certain things that I retrospectively wish I would have dedicated more time to.

Sleas Head Drive, Ireland

The Slea's Head Drive, where you can rent a bike and ride for thirty-one miles around the peninsula

Describe a day in the life of an international student in Dublin. 

Depending on what day it was, I most likely started my day with a small breakfast before heading out to see the city before class. I made a point to visit various churches and parks across town in the morning hours, when I could walk for a long time without feeling overheated or tired. Following that, I would have one or two classes, each about two and a half hours long. The professors allowed us breaks to stretch and walk around, and in one class we even took a "tour" of the various teas and snack foods found in Ireland that the U.S. didn't have.

After class was over, I would go back to my apartment or find a cafe to do my homework for a little while before making a more adventurous trip. That could mean anything from hopping on the DART to an outlying town to walking across the River Liffey to explore something more out of the way from my morning routine. I would return home for dinner and then go out with my flatmates or other members of the program to spend the night in social hotspots around the town.

What was your favorite thing to do on your freetime? 

My favorite activity turned out to be biking or hiking around rougher terrains, which surprised me; I've never been particularly fond of either of those things, but the landscape of Ireland was absolutely perfect for it, and I spent a lot of time looking for chances to go exploring unmarked trails through hills and mountains outside city limits.

Oceanview in Galway, Ireland

The Salthill Promenade in Galway, where you can walk along the shore for a few miles and enjoy the view

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

I had an apartment on the South Side, which was ideally located for my particular program; we were not only just above a grocer's, but only about a five minute walk from the center of the program. Other members of the study abroad program lived in the same building or just down the road, and it was easy to make plans and meet up with them for all kinds of adventures.

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

I'm a much more interesting person, certainly! I have a whole arsenal of stories to tell. But on a more serious note, I have learned to be more confident and comfortable in being alone. I spent so much time exploring an unfamiliar country without anyone there that it definitely grew on me, and I'm more independent now than I was when the program started.