Studying abroad has always been a dream of mine. I choose the major International Studies partly because of the required semester long study abroad component. I wasn't sure where I wanted to study but, the Global Education Office helped me to thoroughly evaluate all of my choices. When I finally decided on University College Cork, in Ireland I felt confident in my decision. The idea of living in a foreign country 3000 miles away from home, for five months, was really scary but with my family, and team supporting me I knew I could do it.
Ireland is 140 times smaller than the US, and has a population of about 5,000,000 people. I had never met anyone who didn't have something positive to say about Ireland and now I know why. From the very beginning the Irish people were nothing but friendly and welcoming. I went to school in the city of Cork, a fairly small city, located in the south. Cork has a homey feel and it will always have a special place in my heart.
I was so lucky to get the chance to play hockey with UCC Hockey Club. It would not have been so easy adjusting to being in a foreign country if it wasn't for UCC Hockey. I owe a special thanks to Paidi Hartnett, the director of hockey at UCC for taking me in and making me feel at home. I had the chance to play with extremely talented and dedicated girls from Ireland and make great new friends that I will always remember! I learned so much playing with these girls and I know I developed so much as a player due to my great coaches and teammates. I will always feel like I have a second hockey family 3,000 miles away from my WAC Hockey family.
I had the chance to travel around most of Ireland and see many different part of the amazing country. Everyone always talks about how beautiful Ireland is but its truly something you have to go and see for yourself. Some of my favorite places were Killarney, Kissane Sheep Farm, the Ring of Kerry, the Antrim Coast, Belfast, Derry, the Giants Causeway, the Cliffs of Mohr, and Cobh. I loved learning about the rich history in Northern Ireland and the views on the North Coast were incredible. I also went on an incredible trip during spring break to the Canary Islands off the West coast of Africa. At the end of the semester I traveled to Faro, Portugal; Seville, Spain; Tangier, Morocco, and Barcelona, Spain. Traveling in Europe far exceeded my wildest expectations and I am already planning another trip for next summer!
I am really looking forward to my senior year of hockey, and being back with my teammates. I missed them so much during spring semester and I can't wait to spend my senior year with them. Sometimes, living in a foreign country was difficult but I wouldn't change anything about my experience. If you are someone who has ever dreamed of studying abroad, I would highly recommend it. It is an experience unlike any other that changes your perception of the world in ways you don't think are possible. I know it sounds stereo-typical when students say that studying abroad is life changing but I can honestly say that my time abroad changed my life for better. I want to thank my parents and Washington College for giving me the opportunity to experience a beautiful little piece of the world.