Studying abroad is about more than going out to different pubs and exploring ancient castles; there is a clear academic aspect that many students often underestimate. There are different approaches to how you spend your time abroad, and I have opted to take a very split approach. Some students wish to spend most of their time studying and preparing for classes, leaving little time to go out and embrace the culture. Others choose to spend tons of time traveling across the continent without caring much for the academic side of things. I feel like I have split my time evenly between the two.
Since I arrived in Ireland, I have not travelled off of the island, but I have done a lot of sightseeing here. My mentality is that if I am going to be living here for nine months, I want to spend the majority of my time getting to know the place. The city of Belfast has so much to offer and I have spent loads of time here. I have gone to multiple Belfast Giants hockey games at the Odyssey Arena, shopped all throughout the city center, and walked through some of the most segregated neighborhoods in Ireland. In October, I went on an outdoor adventure weekend with the Americans in Galway. In November, I went to Newcastle with a couple friends to hike up to the Mourne Wall. In February, I went up to the Antrim Coast with the Americans to see the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge and Giant’s Causeway. This weekend, I am going to Dublin with the Americans to see what that is like.
Over Easter Break in April, my parents are taking two weeks off work to come visit me. For the first week, we are going to go to Germany and the Netherlands to ski in the Alps, visit some castles, and look at the old town we used to live in. After that, we are going to spend a week here in Ireland. My parents have never been here before so I am glad I get to share that experience with them and be their quasi-tour guide. We want to spend a couple days in Belfast so they can see where I live, a day or two in Dublin (because it’s Dublin… why would you not go?!), and a day or two in either Limerick or Killarney. I visited Killarney when I was here in 2010 and I think my parents would really like it. I am already counting down the days until I get to see them! I am trying to figure out a trip to do for the last week of Easter break. I might head over to either Scotland or England. I am not too sure yet… still trying to figure something out!
As fun as travelling is, studying abroad is about just that – studying. When I decided that I wanted to come to Ireland and spend a year of my life here, I knew it would not be a complete vacation and that I would have to do some real school work. Fortunately enough for me, politics classes only consist of a couple essays here and there and a final exam. There is usually no real work that goes along with the course. That makes it really easy for me to balance my time evenly. Sometimes I wish that I would have more work or more time in class because I sometimes find myself having too much free time midway through the week.
I have been in constant communication with my advisors back home about registering for classes at WSU for the fall semester. After tons of emails back and forth, and discussions with my parents, I figured out how I want to spend the rest of my time in college. I have decided to enroll in Air Force ROTC (Reserve Officers’ Training Corps) which is a minimum three year leadership program that prepares individuals to become an officer in the Air Force. With the fifth year of college I would have to do, there is a strong possibility that I will be able to double major, or obtain two degrees. In addition to majoring in political science, I will also be seeking a degree in criminal justice. It took me quite a long time to make my decision but I now know it is the right thing for me.
The classes that I have signed up for will finish off my UCORE requirements (University Common Requirements; similar to general education classes) and will get me going in the right direction for AFROTC and my criminal justice degree.
- AERO101 – Foundation of the USAF 1
- AERO201 – The Evolution of the USAF Air and Space Power 1
- AERO203 – Leadership Lab
- BIO150 – Evolution
- CRMJ101 – Introduction to the Administration of Criminal Justice
- H_D205 – Developing Effective Communication and Life Skills
- MUS262 – Rock Music: History and Social Analysis
I am happy to be here in Ireland and am lucky to have the opportunity to both travel around a very cultured island and to study at one of the best schools in the UK. I want to experience both of these things equally because I know my time here is limited. I am really looking forward to traveling around Europe and seeing how my classes will turn out in the next couple months.