Ireland Student Participants
Adam Barrett (BSE senior) signed up for the BSE education abroad program to go to University College Dublin for the 2011 spring semester. His trip to Ireland was one of the few things he has done completely on his own. Everything there was new to him and Adam was pretty overwhelmed for the first week or so. After getting settled, he felt at home. He took a fairly light course load and took in the culture and traveled. The first month he stayed in Ireland, making tons of new friends along the way and exploring the streets of Dublin.
His dorm was made up of people from all over the world. He still corresponds with friends from China, Germany, Australia, England, Spain, and everywhere in between. New friends made the trip for him. Adam traveled all over Ireland and Europe; he went to Cork, Belfast, Galway, and some places around Dublin. In Europe, Adam went to Berlin, Paris, London, and Edinburgh (for really cheap). When he was not traveling, Adam and friends would either go out in the city or hang out in their quad by the dorm and play soccer or Frisbee. He got to play on the University lacrosse team (which was really fun). He would recommend the trip to anyone. It is impossible to not have an amazing time!
"I am currently studying at University College Dublin, Ireland, through the Transatlantic Biosystems Engineering Mobility and Curriculum Project program. As a BSE senior, studying abroad during my senior year has added extra challenges, but faculty at both schools have been incredibly helpful to accommodate my needs. The class structure in Ireland is remarkably different. I will have approximately one mid-term, one essay, and maybe five homework assignments during the whole semester--aside from finals! I'm not sure if I prefer this system or not. While I enjoy having more free time, I am concerned that my entire grade rests on a two hour examination for each class!
Outside of classes I enjoy hanging out with my new friends, mostly other exchange students from America and Canada. I live with two Irish students, so I get to interact regularly with them as well. The best part about having the other exchange students as friends is that I always have someone to travel with! So far I have visited three other Irish cities (Cork, Belfast and Galway) and have seen some of the major tourist sights in Ireland. I have also been to Belgium and have trips planned for Paris, Rome, Milan, Scotland, England, and maybe Spain. While I'm here I feel the need to see as much as possible; who knows when I will have this opportunity again!
There are certainly some major differences between Ireland and Blacksburg. For starters, they drive on the opposite side of the road and do not give pedestrians the right of way. Consequently I am in constant danger of being run over! I find that the Irish dress up more on a day-to-day basis (contrary to what I was told). It is also impossible to find some foods which are so common in America, such as Kraft mac 'n cheese, or black beans. Of course, I am trying some traditional Irish dishes when I get the chance.
For anyone who is thinking about studying abroad, I highly recommend it. Ireland is a great place to study abroad as well. The atmosphere is very relaxed, and traveling to other areas in Europe is easy and fairly inexpensive. I know at the end of this I will have made some excellent new friends from many locations, seen much more of the world, and have a greater appreciation for my life back home as well as other cultures in the world."
Andrew studied at University College Dublin for the 2008 spring semester. Andrew says, "This program offered an amazing experience for a number of reasons including the ability to travel internationally with Dublin as a home base, and the fact that I could take BSE courses and other transferrable credits to stay up to date with my graduation timeline. While studying at UCD I had the opportunity to live on campus, which is a great way to meet Irish and other international students. I joined the UCD Softball and Ultimate Frisbee clubs which allowed me to travel to various parts of Ireland for different tournaments. During the weekends and the two-week spring break I took a road trip across Ireland and visited the Netherlands, Scotland, Switzerland, and Belgium. Overall the program offered an enlightening study abroad experience because of the opportunity to integrate myself into the social and academic aspects of UCD while traveling to other countries within Europe."
Kristen and Cally spent the 2007-2008 academic year at University College Dublin. Kristen says, "We got to interact with students from many different countries and backgrounds and learn a different culture. We were also able to travel around Ireland and Europe and see another way of life completely different from the American way. It was wonderful!