Name: Julianne Huff
Study Abroad: Waterford, Ireland (Winter 2015)
As I will be writing stories and experiences of other students returning from study abroad, I thought it was necessary first to share my adventures while I was abroad in Ireland!
After a nine and a half hour flight, a three hour bus ride, and about nineteen hours of travel all together, my feet touched the continent of Europe for the first time in my life. Instead of just dipping my toes into life in Europe, I dove in head first.
Ireland was kind of exactly as I had expected: rolling green hills, cows or sheep everywhere, a pub in every town, beer is more common than water, and the people are incredibly friendly. I was ecstatic.
Going to school at the Waterford Institute of Technology was nothing like I had imagined. It was so similar to school at UFV! The classes were small, the people were friendly, and the campus was pretty straightforward – if you knew where to go. Thankfully, all of my new friends were lost with me the very first day! But getting lost once in a while leads to new things doesn’t it?
The culture was so open and friendly, and this was a place where it was normal to go to a pub on a weekday or evening to grab a pint with some friends. The food was great – one of my favourites being the beef and Guinness stew – and the beers were even better!
I had been so excited to meet new people. I knew that this would be my favourite part of the experience. Everyone I met had a different story, was from somewhere new, or a town I’d never heard of before. All of us international students ended up hanging out the entire first day after orientation – and it is definitely one of my favourite memories of my entire time abroad.
While living in Waterford, I was able to travel all along the coast of Ireland with my roommate, Brittany. Brittany was also a student from UFV, and we became best friends through the experience. I’m so glad to have had her there with me, as it truly enriched my time abroad! With other friends we met, from Poland, Spain, Germany, Mexico, Hungary, Brazil, and the Netherlands, we ventured to explore Ireland on one of our school breaks. It was such an interesting experience, travelling with people I had known for merely a few weeks and seeing amazing places!
Traveling gives you a new perspective on people. Want to know someone really well? Travel with them! We all became really good friends pretty quickly, and I couldn’t be more grateful to have these incredible people now in my life.
Every chance we could get, we would travel, whether near or far. On weekends, we explored the areas close by that we could get to by bus. I already mentioned our trip through part of Ireland on our first week off from school. Brittany and I also ventured into Northern Ireland for a weekend trip, seeing Belfast and famous Giant’s Causeway. On another break – 2 weeks off for Easter – I went on an amazing trip, one of my favourite trips ever, through 4 countries. My friends, Brittany, Carlos, and Bert, were some of the best travel buddies, and I’m sure they would agree that we all have some great and hilarious memories from that trip.
Even after these many trips, I planned to backpack Europe with my brother and a friend for six and a half weeks after my semester abroad. I saw and experienced so many amazing things. But when it came time to go home, I knew that I would miss Ireland the most. It had become my second home.
Basically, what I am trying to say is that taking the chance to study abroad allowed me to broaden my world. I have friends all over the globe, I have seen places that survived wars and centuries of time, and I have encountered new and different cultures. All of which allowed me to grow as a person.
So to the person considering study abroad or who is studying abroad right now, take the chance. Take every chance that you can get. Don’t be afraid to have new experiences, to meet new cultures and people! Don’t be afraid to get lost – you might just find a funky shop, Churchill’s childhood house, or a wonderful food place.