Why I studied abroad

I went to Ireland to study abroad in college because I always thought of myself as Irish. Was I wrong?

Why I studied abroad I have always claimed to be Irish. My grandparents are from Ireland, and I have family who still lives in Ireland. I celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, I have freckles, I have an Irish name, and I like corned beef and cabbage.

No doubt about it: I am Irish.

Or so I thought.

In college, the definition of who I am changed. College forced me to question if the word “Irish” truly describes me. I realized that there must be more to being Irish than wearing green on St. Patrick’s Day.
So when I heard about an opportunity to study for a semester in Galway, Ireland, I knew that it would be the perfect way for me to explore my Irish heritage. The program is run by Villanova University, but I took classes for a semester at National University Ireland, Galway. The course credits transferred and counted toward my degree at Villanova, but the classes were taught by Irish professors and attended by Irish and other international students.

While in Ireland, I lived on my own and cooked my own food for the first time.

I missed my family, my friends and the sense of comfort I found at college. There were times I felt lost and lonely and I wanted to come home. But studying abroad in Ireland was not only the most challenging aspect of my college career, but also the most rewarding.

I now have a greater understanding of who I am and who the Irish people are. I learned about their passions, their beliefs and their way of life. My idea of what it means to be Irish has transformed, allowing me to serve as a cultural link between America and Ireland.


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