Going to Ireland has been a dream of mine for as long as I can remember. Although there was no particular driving force, something about the “Emerald Isle” has always sparked my interest. So, when the opportunity finally arose through both scholarships and summer savings, I could not have been more elated.

After hours of research I settled on CIEE as my study abroad program. Many aspects of the program enticed me, however the biggest factor was the Irish history course that they offered. I figured that one of the best ways to learn about a culture was to learn about its history… and boy was I right. Ireland’s history was not only fascinating, morbid, and complex, but still interlaced into the context of many social interactions. Yet, despite such a dark past, their culture was filled with playful smiles and endless laughter. One was never alone somewhere for long before a friendly Irish individual strolled up to you to start a wide-array of conversations. You will quickly pick up on their amazing storytelling abilities, curious minds, and firm beliefs. Overall, the people and culture are just as beautiful as the land they live on.

While in Ireland, I stayed in Dublin in a student living apartment arranged by the program. During the week we had class, field trips, and explored Ireland’s capital. On the weekends we traveled to the outskirts of the country and Northern Ireland. Of all the places we visited and stayed at, one of my favorites was Galway. The people were extremely friendly and welcoming and live traditional Irish music was littered throughout the city. Our trip commenced with a free tour of the colorful city and its history. We later explored the farmer’s market and postcard worthy streets. The seafood restaurants were a must, as well as visiting the Cliffs of Moher, which was less than a two-hour bus ride through tiny, country back roads. The overnight trip also consisted of an inexpensive hostel that was equivalent to a nice hotel. It offered both a free breakfast and nightly pub crawl around the city. Overall, I felt like this trip was the true Irish experience and I could not recommend visiting anywhere else more.

Ireland’s people and culture exceeded my highest expectations and I could not have been more pleased with my decision to study abroad. For those who have never traveled and/or lived outside of the United States before, I highly recommend traveling somewhere like Ireland. You will be amazed at the vast number of differences that exist in countries that speak the same language. In my opinion, places like these are great stepping stones into the world of traveling. Not only do I have memories that will last a lifetime, but I have also gained new skills, abilities, and perspectives that will help me be more successful in both my professional career and personal life. It is truly a once in a lifetime experience and I whole-heartedly believe that every student should take advantage of the opportunity to branch out and study abroad. It is worth every penny for the amazing individual you become.

Heidi Schuessler is majoring in Nursing and spent Summer, 2019 studying abroad in Dublin, Ireland through CIEE. Heidi had the following to say about study abroad, “Do it. Now is a better time than any. You’re not only surrounded by constant support and guidance, but others who are just as lost and slightly terrified. The ease of both traveling and transitioning is truly made 1,000 times more simple with the aid of UTC, a study abroad program, YouTube videos, and travel blogs. They have given me the skills, abilities, and confidence I need for future success in adventures around the world. Nothing can compare to the resources you have at your disposal at this point in time. The new experiences and perspectives you gain will be worth more than money could ever buy.”

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