This semester, English Literature student Alexandria Waycott is studying in Ireland, accompanied by her friends and fellow UFV Study Abroad students, Meaghan McIver and Katie Irving. Alex shares colourful photos along with useful advice:
Hello UFV Study Abroad community,
I’m currently on exchange at the Waterford Institute of Technology, and I’m having great craic living in Ireland! Going into this, I didn’t know what I was getting into, but my journey so far has exceeded any of my expectations.
Based on my experience, I have come up with suggestions for making your Study Abroad semester the best time of your life:
Have an open mind
As you prepare for your experience abroad, know that things are going to be different than what you are used to at home. Be open to the differences you are about to encounter, and try to embrace them.
Step out of your comfort zone
I think this is the most important bit of advice. During your study abroad experience, it is guaranteed that you will be thrown into many uncomfortable situations with people you don’t know. Just go with it! Make an effort to introduce yourself to the other students. Chances are, they feel just as awkward as you do. Making friends is vital to your experience… many of the people around you will become like family – a fundamental support network. You are making irreplaceable connections with people from all around the world.
Act like a local
The people in Ireland are very warm and welcoming, and they love to give advice about where they live! Don’t be afraid to ask them questions. Locals will steer you away from the common tourist spots and often lead you towards hidden gems. My friends and I found some great Irish pubs and live music by talking to locals. Try the local fare (Guinness), and take part in cultural traditions and events.
Take full advantage of your weekends and breaks! Traveling is easy in Europe; you can get a bus or train to just about anywhere, and hostels are relatively inexpensive. I have already been lucky enough to see quite a few places in Ireland, as well as Belgium, France and the Netherlands in the two months I have been here. If you get the opportunity to go somewhere, take it!
Keep your chin up
Things are not always going to go as planned, and adjusting to changes as well as being away from home for an extended period of time can be more difficult for some people than others. If things get tough, try to remember why you wanted to participate in Study Abroad in the first place. Surround yourself with positive people, keep yourself busy, and maintain a good attitude. Try to make the best of what life throws at you, and if possible, laugh at your mishaps and misfortunes.
I have already made so many wonderful friends and memories in the short time I have been in Ireland. I can’t wait to see what the next few months have in store for me. Slàinte!
Are you a Study Abroad student like Alexandria? We would love to hear about your semester abroad. Submit a post to the Study Abroad blog today.