During my sophomore year I studied abroad at Queen’s University Belfast in Northern Ireland through an exchange program. Many of my courses at Queen’s dealt with Irish history and culture, and I spent a fair amount of time traveling around Belfast and the surrounding region for class and for fun. This, along with a very fascinating unit on 20th century Irish women in one of my classes, piqued my interest. Thankfully, CofC had many wonderful professors (shoutout to Dr. Cara Delay and Dr. Moore Quinn) and classes that allowed me to continue pursuing Irish studies upon my return, and I ended up focusing most of my undergraduate research on 20th century Irish women.
In the summer of my senior year I studied abroad again, this time through a faculty-led program with Dr. Quinn to Skibbereen, Ireland. My experiences on this program confirmed what I was already considering—going to graduate school in Ireland. Ultimately, I ended up attending University College Dublin (UCD) for my master’s. I graduated from UCD in 2019 with an M.A. in History of Welfare and Medicine in Society, having written my thesis on food, power, and Irish women convicts in the late 19th century.
Beyond helping me discover my academic interest and driving me towards getting my master’s in Ireland, study abroad helped me cultivate skills I’m finding useful in my present job. I’ve befriended and lived with people from Denmark, India, Brazil, Norway, China, and of course Ireland and Northern Ireland. These friendships and experiences have helped me develop a greater understanding of people, especially when we may be coming from different backgrounds. This is proving invaluable in my current career working for an international company with offices and clients across the globe.
In short, my study abroad experiences helped me discover my academic interest and develop incredibly useful skills. I heartily recommend studying abroad to all who are interested. You never know what path it may lead you down!