Through Plymouth State University’s Freshman Abroad Program, I was able to study abroad at the University of Limerick in Ireland during my first semester of college. I first heard about the program from a brochure that I received before I’d officially enrolled as an undergraduate student. The prospect of living and studying in another country definitely influenced my decision to attend PSU.
I applied for the program and was accepted! I was in a state of ecstatic disbelief that I would be living in Europe for nearly four months. My parents were nervous about sending me so far away but they knew that I had so much to gain from the experience. I remember how surreal the first morning I arrived felt, staring out the bus at the misty green landscape that I would come to call home.
Not only was I transitioning from high school to college but also from one culture to another. I was more excited than anything to go through something so huge and adventurous. Fifteen other Plymouth State students and I all went through this enormous change together. We learned what it was like to live on our own. We navigated through the city of Limerick both for leisure and for necessities, such as grocery shopping and errands. No one could go home with laundry on the weekends or to visit our American households. Our lives were truly directed without a heavy dependence on our parents. Thankfully, I had the support of my housemates, and as the only first-year student in the townhouse where I lived they often provided me with useful college advice.
Going abroad was the perfect opportunity to explore another country while simultaneously fulfilling my general education requirements. I took two classes taught by a Plymouth State professor and three classes through the University of Limerick (UL). Plymouth State Professor Monninger taught a First-Year Seminar and The Outsider. In The Outsider, we examined what it means to be an outsider in society and applied the concept to our own experience as Americans living abroad. The UL courses explored the Irish culture and customs, such as Irish folklore and traditional music and dance. UL has a strong standing in the science field and, as a biology major, if I studied abroad at the university again, I’d enroll in their science course offerings.
After studying abroad, I feel that I have a much stronger understanding of other cultures. Living in Ireland provided me with knowledge about the country and its people that I wouldn’t have gotten through a textbook or online. I now know the meaning of common Irish phrases such as “What’s the craic?” and learned that no one ever actually says “Top of the mornin’ to ya!” I traveled all around the country, to Dublin, Galway, Kilkenny, Kerry, and the Cliffs of Moher. I was able to travel to other countries in Europe as well, making weekend trips to England and France. Every day felt like a new adventure.
Out of everything that I experienced, I will always remember the friends I made during my semester in Ireland. I met so many new and awesome people-my PSU Freshman Abroad group who travelled with me, my housemates in Kilmurry Village, and the Irish students at UL. I won’t ever forget those late nights watching movies, spontaneously planting pumpkins on campus, going to TGIF events held by the International Society with the other PSU students, or hearing my housemates cheer “Go Pack, go!” The bonds I made through this unique experience will always be an unforgettable part of my life.
I can never thank Plymouth State University enough for this amazing time.
Did you participate in a Study Abroad experience? Share your stories and photos with us at plymouth.edu/alumni/class-notes/alumni-experiences.