Photo by Ella Orchard-Blowen

Galway girl’s guide for studying abroad

Ella Orchard-Blowen  




Studying Abroad is a wild, mysterious experience that’s romanticized all over TikTok and Instagram. When looking at schools I began thinking about the possibility of studying abroad during my college years. 

I’ve always loved to travel, and have been all over the United States, Canada, and Mexico. Even so, I had yet to leave this continent and had never traveled without my parents. When I began my research, I started by looking at all the programs offered at Plymouth and set up an appointment with Ashley Gordon, PSU’s Education Abroad Advisor. Everything grew from there and suddenly I’m in Galway, Ireland.

Tip #1: Go with a program group.  

When researching studying abroad, I was recommended to look at two companies that have programs for students to study abroad, International Study Abroad and Academic Programs International‘s websites. 

Both programs set up groups so that students will be surrounded by other students doing the same thing as them. I met my group at the airport, along with our leader, who essentially serves as our big sister, giving us advice and bringing us on excursions. It’s comforting to have a group of people going through the same experience as you.

Photo by Ella Orchard-Blowen

Tip #2: Try to sleep on your flight.  

Depending on where you’re going and when your flight is, sometimes it’s best to try and sleep on the plane. I had a late flight, leaving Boston, MA at 7:25 PM and arriving in Shannon, Ireland at 6:30 AM. I put my AirPods in, blasted white noise, and attempted to sleep. I was unfortunately unsuccessful and didn’t sleep for 24 hours. But still, it can be helpful to try.

Tip #3: Allow yourself time to adjust. 

If you’re going to a brand new country, all by yourself, then you are likely going to be lonely and homesick at times. You have time and don’t have to do everything in your first week. 

Give yourself the space and time to feel these things. Give yourself time to Facetime your family and friends back home. Give yourself time to sit in your bed and cry. Give yourself time to be jet lagged and adjust to the time change. Don’t try to do everything all at once.

During my first week, I felt an insane pressure to document everything and felt that I wasn’t doing enough. I slowly realized how much time I have in Galway, and that I don’t need to do everything right now. You have time for everything so allow yourself to enjoy your experience.  


Photo by Ella Orchard-Blowen

Tip #4: Explore.

If you’re studying abroad, you’re going to be living in a brand new place for a whole semester. It may seem terrifying and overwhelming when you first arrive, but after a while, you’ll grow accustomed to your new home. Even after only two weeks, I’m starting to feel so much more at home in Galway and can go places without using Google Maps (about 75% of the time).

Something that has helped me specifically was exploring this brand-new city with my friends. We spent our first week just exploring Galway. We learned how to get to our university, where the best stores are for groceries, clothes, and all those things that you suddenly realize you need to survive, and what shortcuts to take to avoid walking directly next to a bunch of traffic. 

 We even learned what pubs are “cool and hip” and which are considered “old man pubs.” Take the opportunity to explore and go on adventures. 

Tip #5: Be friendly. 

It can be super daunting to be surrounded by brand-new people, and a completely different set of social norms, but I have found that Irish people are extremely friendly and kind and have yet to experience any anti-American sentiment that we seem to expect from other countries as long as you aren’t obnoxiously loud. If you’re friendly and kind to those around you, then you will be proving the rude American stereotype incorrect.

Don’t be afraid to approach people and ask for help, or just start talking to someone in your classes. Be brave, and explore. 

The deadline to apply for Summer and Fall programs is March 1. More information can be found here or at

1 thought on “Galway girl’s guide for studying abroad

Comments are closed.