Program: UMD Exchange: University College Dublin (Ireland)
Term: Fall 2019
Studying abroad was the best possible opportunity I could've had to explore my interest in Irish literature. I took full advantage of being in Ireland and took all classes related to Irish history and writing. I really believe that my time here helped me really figure out what I want to do with my future. If I hadn't come here, I would've never truly known how much I enjoyed Irish literature, and that I'd like to make it part of my future career. In addition, I'm also now seriously considering returning to Ireland in the future for graduate-level education or a job after graduate school.
One of my other favorite things about studying in Ireland is all of the friends I've made. I now have friends from a handful of countries all around the world, including places in the U.S. that I believe will be in my life for a long time. When you're all in this new place together, it gives you common ground to relate on. You all get to know the city together and it brings you closer faster.
Advice for future #TerpsAbroad: If you have a specific interest that UMD doesn't offer classes in, try to find a location that will offer you classes in those interests. I really love Irish literature, but UMD doesn't offer Irish literature classes. Of course, the perfect place for me to go was Ireland. There was no other place that would offer me this subject. Just remember that some subjects are unique to a place, and studying abroad is a great opportunity to take advantage of niche regional interests.
The most memorable experience I had while in Ireland was a day trip that I took with four of my friends to Northern Ireland. We spent the entire day together, from 6A.M. to 7P.M., and every moment was so much fun. That was the day that I knew I had made friends that would be around for a long time. We slept on the bus, endured the cold, and got lost in Belfast together. Even at the worst moments, we were enjoying ourselves and finding things to laugh about. I had only known them for a couple weeks, but it already felt like we'd been friends for months. I think part of what made it so special was that we were all experiencing this new place for the first time together. Three Americans, One Englander, and one Australian all exploring the Northern Irish coast with each other. We could've been the cast of a sitcom.
Advice for future #TerpsAbroad: Studying abroad is so much more fun than it is stressful. All of the worries that you have--making friends, classes transferring, being away from home--fade away so quickly. You really become a resident of the city you travel to, and it becomes a second home. If you're excited, you will get what you want out of the experience.
Adjusting to the class structures/workload was difficult. In Ireland, all but one of my classes only had two assignments: one midterm and one final. There were absolutely no other grades--no homework, no mandatory meeting with a professor, no participation grades. In the U.S., I'm used to having homework grades, rough draft grades, etc., so putting all of my faith in two papers per class was hard. I really had to learn how to do papers ahead of time and spread out my assignments, otherwise I would've had to do four papers all in the span of one week. So, I did some papers up to over a week early to really give myself time to put the proper effort into them. In the end, I did great on my papers, so it wasn't as big of a deal only having two grades as I thought.