Student Blogs & Vlogs | College Study Abroad Programs, IFSA-Butler

The Hidden Riches of Galway

Time March 16th, 2017 in 2017 Spring, College Study Abroad, Ireland | No Comments by

Galway: a quaint city on the west coast of Ireland. This harbor city is home of shops, traditional Irish music and pubs, National University of Ireland, and Ed Sheeran’s new song Galway Girl! But what Wikipedia can’t tell you about Galway are the hidden riches and the beautiful secrets — the reasons why I love every minute of my semester here. Read More »

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Daily Life as an Irish Student

Time March 7th, 2017 in 2017 Spring, Ireland | No Comments by

Life in Ireland, wow, it’s amazing.

Of course, it has its ups and downs, but that’s just life in general. The best part is, every low is “higher” than the lows at home, because I’m here!

The most notable thing about Ireland that differs from The University of Tulsa would be the daily life. Here, I live in an apartment with four other girls, have a 20 minute walk to class, cook for myself, and have to adapt to the weather at any given moment. But hey, I’m learning how to live on my toes!

The best advice I can give to a student who is looking to study in Ireland is to pack with the weather in mind. The Irish students dress up, for classes, but only under their coat and rain jacket! A big hood is a must, layers, a scarf, and although they don’t wear rain boots a lot, when it pours they’re needed. The rainbows are beautiful, the grass is green, the walk to class is reflective as we pass the Irish countryside. Learning to cook has been a bit of a struggle, but luckily the other IFSA students and my Irish roommates are phenomenal chefs!

Daily life of an Irish student involves waking up in a snuggly bed and having to get up out of the burrito, put on some fuzzy slippers, and shower in the morning while the water is still warm. Put on a couple layers, make some breakfast and pack a lunch, double check that my charger is in my bag, and head to campus for the day. As the twenty minute walk is enjoyable with nice weather, I always have my rain jacket and enough homework to keep me on campus if it starts to pour, because the weather changes every 30-45 minutes. Tutorials (larger lectures) and Seminars (smaller discussions) throughout the day, studying and socializing in between, and making sure to keep up with the weekly socs (societies, which are like our clubs) email! Campus is always lively, whether it’s the cafeteria, Smokey’s Cafe, the library, the Arts Concourse, or the campus bar, Sult. With coffee and soup a day, I’m starting to feel more Irish. Hopefully I’ll turn a little greener for St. Patrick’s Day!

But until then, stay warm (and dry)! Read More »

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Academics Away from America

Time February 2nd, 2017 in 2017 Spring, Ireland | No Comments by

Academics Abroad: The reason why you chose the country/program you chose. The most important thing about studying abroad, the studying! And yes, I still focus on school while I’m abroad having fun, but going through IFSA-Butler made it so much easier.

Prior to leaving: I had no idea where to go. I knew I had to make sure I would still graduate on time, since I had not planned to go abroad (again). I knew I had two psychology classes and statistics that I needed specifically, and two electives. I made many phone calls and emails to the IFSA staff once I had chosen Ireland, wondering how many classes Irish students take (typically 6, or a lightened course load of 5). I knew I needed Tulsa to approve the classes before I left. I had Tulsa approve 8 classes with the help of the IFSA staff and their syllabus bank, and contacting a professor as statistics can have prerequisites and as a sophomore I was planning on taking the senior-level cognitive psychology class! Ah! Luckily they had previous students take the psychology classes that had passed the class. Statistics was still in the air, but we would see when I got here.

While here: I got to meet the other 15 IFSA students here. Luckily, I had students in both of my psych classes, and one of my electives, Celtic Mythology! As I went to my first sociology lecture, I realized it wasn’t for me, but here at NUIG there is a two-week add/drop period. I contacted Ashley, the IFSA rep, and asked for help to switch into Celtic Archeology, another elective class that had many IFSA students in it. She easily helped me and I emailed the international office here to get a course outline, to email back to Tulsa! And within a few days Tulsa had approved it too, yay! The only thing left in the air was statistics, so I waited after the first lecture to introduce myself to the professor, who was incredibly kind. He said that last semester half of his class got high honors (basically an A) and he wanted to help me achieve that. His office was open Monday – Wednesday for tea and help, gave me two class representatives to ask, and the campus resources and the hours that they have statistics tutors. I knew I could succeed in such a positive environment (he also passes around candy each class, so that was a perk). After the two-week add/drop period, we had to register online to get Blackboard and register with IFSA. Ashley came to campus to help us through the process – wow! Read More »

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The First Week

Time January 16th, 2017 in 2017 Spring, Ireland | No Comments by

Hey guys! My name is Kate Leahy and I’m a sophomore Speech-Language Pathology Major studying at the University of Tulsa. I’m from St. Louis, MO and excited to spend my semester at the National University of Ireland, Galway! Follow my journey as I explore this beautiful city, some of the country, and hopefully a few other adventures around Europe.

One week in Galway, Ireland includes departure, a city tour, trying to find campus, good food, live music, trying Guinness for the first time(!!!), getting lost (at least) four times, exploring down the coast, and making new friends! Read More »

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Starting on the Right Foot at a New School

Time September 12th, 2016 in 2016 Fall, Peru | No Comments by

I have started my fall semester in Peru, and it has been quite different. It was an experience to enroll alright. At Holy Cross, enrollment is like this: I wake up at 6:30 am and sit at my desk and wait for 7 am to roll in while my heart starts beating a mile a minute as it gets closer to enrollment. I enroll, and I fall back asleep until my usual 10 or 11 am class. It’s a virtual academic hunger game for enrollment between my graduating class, and this I have realized is a breeze compared to what I had to do for enrollment in Peru. First week of school is “shopping week” for the international students. The local Peruvian students start their first official classes while the international students get to attend the classes they are interested in and observe the professors, no strings attached. On my courses I had all anthropology courses, and I only went to shop for two classes. I was kind of risking my chances because I didn’t really have a backup plan. Have I mentioned how most of the classes get together once a week for three hours straight? Others however get together two times a week for two hours each. So that was also a bit different for me. It’ll definitely be something I’ll have to get used to.

The week goes by and it’s the weekend. I was pretty determined to get my urban anthropology and relations of gender classes. Those would be useful for my major. However, Sunday rolls around and I change my mind completely. I decide on taking a sociology and an art course. Why? I realized that this semester I don’t exactly want to kill myself with homework and stress. I already have to ride on a combi/ bus twice a day each trip being at least an hour long (on a good day). My course selection in the end was focused on taking art. With this decision I was actually very limited. I strategized and found an art class that did not interfere with my already mandatory classes, and I chose a sociology class that could go into my major. I get a core requirement and a major requirement out of the way with less stress than taking two anthropology courses that required a hefty amount of reading. I felt pretty excited for the fall semester. I hoped I would get those classes. I also prayed, just in case. Read More »

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College and Uni: Going from Liberal Arts to Abroad

Time August 9th, 2016 in 2016 Fall, Australia | No Comments by

There’s been a lot of new slang I’ve had to learn since coming to Australia. Usually, everything is shortened and that was the case with the word university. The word college is basically non-existent here and even saying university can be a bit of a stretch. No, the word Aussies prefer is short and sweet when it comes to their schooling: Uni. That’s only the beginning of the differences between small liberal arts colleges in the U.S. and giant universities across Australia. Being in classes for two weeks now, I’ve slowly adapted to the giant lecture style classes and more independent teaching method found here at the University of Adelaide, and hope I can provide some insight for future liberal arts students looking to study abroad.

First off, it has just been plain bizarre even being back in classes when I see my friends posting photos on Facebook hanging out on the beach, going to concerts, and enjoying their summer when I’m off to my 10:00 AM lecture in 50 degree weather. Getting back into the school work grind is a process in itself, but throw in an entirely new university and teaching system and it becomes a whole new journey. The biggest course I was ever in at F&M had about 35 people in it while the biggest lecture I have here in Adelaide has about 150 students. So besides the obvious size difference, what are the big differences in course work, teaching method, and overall university life in Australia versus that in the U.S.? Read More »

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Settling in on the First Week of Classes

Time January 28th, 2016 in 2016 Spring, College Study Abroad, Ireland | 1 Comment by

Well the first week of classes is quickly come to a close.  I am really starting to find my way and settle in nicely.  I never thought I would actually say this, but I truly find all of my classes intriguing.  I am excited for what lies ahead academically.  In particular, I am excited for an Irish history class that I am taking which focuses on the Irish struggle for independence from Great Britain.  I have always been fascinated by my Irish culture and I couldn’t think of a better class to take while here in Limerick than that one.  In addition to this, I am very happy to be included as a Kemmy Business School student.  Kemmy Business School is one of the best in the country and it is an honor to have the opportunity to take classes and learn from some of the best professors.

On another note, I played my first competitive soccer match in a few years last night with Shannon Town A.F.C.; it was a blast.  I was so happy to be out on the pitch playing the game I love.  While I am here in Limerick, I will certainly be looking to fulfill some of my leisure time with this team.  It’s composed of men all ages, which is something new to me.  In fact, I happen to be on the younger side of the spectrum!  Nevertheless, I look forward to making the most of this opportunity!

-CJR

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Megapost Part Two! (Featuring School, Super-Tango, and Mexican Parties)

Time April 1st, 2014 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

Hola hola a todos, y gracias para leyendo.  Welcome to part two of this week’s Megapost (check HERE for part one), and I look forward to expounding more on this week’s adventures. When I last left you, we had just finished a lovely adventure through the streets of Buenos Aires for St. Patrick’s day.  I had been in Buenos Aires for about 3 weeks, and have absolutely fallen for the place.  I love speaking Spanish, and I can feel my confidence with the language growing.  I love the city, and how there is always something to do and good people to do it with.  I love the people, and the kindness they show to strangers.  And I have been blessed with some pretty excellent experiences in Argentina so far; I’ve been to oceans, rivers, and some of the most spectacular places that Buenos Aires has to offer.

But, like all things, the utter revelry that I’ve been experiencing for here has come to an end, and in the words of Sam Cooke, A Change Is Gonna Come.  School has officially started!  Last week, I had my first classes at the Fundacion Universidad del Cine (lovingly dubbed the FUC (pronounced “Fook”)), and I am welcome this next step into life in Buenos Aires.  The FUC is a small school; only about 1,000 students (including grad students) attend, and it only occupies 4 buildings on a street in San Telmo.  I almost walked past it the on my first day of class.  I dig the small school vibe, though.  It reminds me of Whitman in the sense that you have the opportunity to make really meaningful connections with your professors, and I’m definitely to take advantage of that here.  Out of the four classes that I’m taking (History of Argentine Cinema, Advanced Castellano, Filmmaking and Production, and Sound Design and Orchestration), three of them have only 3 students.  I’m in heaven.

Now, some of y’all who know me might be thinking, “But hold up Dylan.  You’re a physics major.  You like math and natural science and computer science.  Why on earth are you taking an about-face into the realm of Film Studies?  Do you even know what that major is?”  The short answer is: I have no real idea what I’m doing.  But that’s kinda the point.  I didn’t come to Argentina to keep doing what I’m used to, I came here seeking change, and that’s hopefully what I’m about to experience.  I’m fortunate enough to not have to fulfill any major requirements for Whitman while I’m in Buenos Aires, and so the only thing I need to knock out while I’m here are classes in the humanities realm.  Not only do Film Studies classes do that for me, but they’re fun!  My professors are awesome and knowledgable and super cool (my filmmaking Prof has already invited me to play tennis and go climbing with him), and I’m sure that I’m gonna learn a bunch.  Plus, now I get to hang out with artsy film kids who dress cooler than me and have educated opinions on the meaning of life.  And my school has really hip decor.  This is gonna be awesome. [Gallery not found]

And as if it wasn’t enough to have started school such an awesome program (the film studies concentration people here have already taken me out to 2 different meals as part of the “orientation”), IFSA upped the game by taking all the students in the film/literature concentrations (the “Artsy” kids) to an extraordinary concert by the Orquestra Típica Fernández Fierro (Heretofore referred as the “OTFF”, because I don’t wanna type that out every time). It was so so so fun.  The show was in this dive bar in this little hole-in-the-wall restaurant that opened into a soundstage.  The program paid for the tickets AND our food and drinks, so I split an excellent bottle of wine with some of my new UW-Madison friends and thoroughly enjoyed the show.  Now, it’s really tough to describe a show by the OTFF, but I’ll do my best (check out the video I linked to really understand).  Essentially, this group plays traditional Argentine tango music, but all the musicians are young and cool and play with unbelievable passion and energy.  It’s like “Apocalyptica” meets tango.  I was in a wonderful musical trance the whole time, and while I watched I reflected on how lucky I was to have had the opportunity to experience so many cool things in such a short amount of time here.

BUT THE FUN DOESN’T STOP THERE OH NO.  I finished classes for the week on Thursday (woo I have a four-day weekend every week woo), so naturally some good, clean fun was in order.  The weekend before, I had met a few other international students from Mexico, and they had mentioned that they live in an apartment near Recoleta and that I should come over sometime.  Well, that “sometime” was this weekend, apparently, as my dear friend Stephanie (yes, this is your shoutout :)  Be stoked) invited myself and some other pals over to this new friend’s apartment for some good old-fashioned shenanigans.  As this is a public blog viewed by both my Grandmothers, I won’t entail precisely what went down, but what I did love about that night was how fun it was to be hanging out with other international students (Mexico, USA, Paraguay) all the while speaking Spanish and swapping stories.  And I was in Argentina!  And it was 5 AM on a Thursday night (Friday morning?)  How cultured can I guy get!? (Well, much more, I’m sure, but I felt pretty darn awesome.)

So now, here I am, the the cusp of another weekend in which I am headed to Uruguay with the whole program (and you can be sure that I’m gonna write about that in a future post), and I’m feeling happy and full of life.  This place is incredible, and while I’m starting to feel the vague hints of cultural separation from the US (mainly I’m just tired of people looking down my nose at me once they realize I’m from the states.  My Spanish is good, okay!), I’m too busy enjoying life here to mind.  Buenos Aires, stay magical.  And to everyone reading this, thanks for making it this far. We’ll stay in touch.  ALSO, be sure to check out part one of my Megapost here.

Besos,

Dylan

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Why I quit my internship

Time August 23rd, 2013 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

I was the strange kid in the study abroad group simultaneously completing an American internship.

I worked at nights when I had finished (…maybe…) my homework and was in no danger of missing out on cultural experiences or, more importantly, time with my host family.

Not anymore. As of Thursday, I’ve given my two-week notice.
Read More »

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“Not until we are lost do we begin to understand ourselves.”

Time November 2nd, 2012 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

Embarrassing…only half this post went up and I’m not sure why. So here it is again, but different because of course…I didn’t save the original!

Last weekend I took my first international weekend trip since I’ve been to Ireland! I traveled quite a bit before arriving in Galway but it was my first trip to Hungary (the country where my dad’s side of the family immigrated from), and the first time where coming back to Ireland felt like coming home.

Unfortunately, a few nights before I left my wallet was stolen at a bar in Galway. In all honesty it was probably more my carelessness that enabled someone to take it than anything else since I’m the only one from my program to experience any kind of problems here.

Luckily my immigration card wasn’t in my wallet but I did lose some money, my NUIG student ID, and most unfortunately, my debit card. On a positive note, I have some amazing friends who helped me out and loaned me money while I cancelled my card and ran out of the cash I had at home. Since I opted not to open an Irish bank account and my bank is a smaller state bank, I had to wait for them to send my card to my home address in the US and have my mom forward me my card here, where it got stuck in customs for a few days because it needed some kind of special form to be filled out. Then there’s no post on Saturdays and Sundays and this past Monday was a bank holiday so again the post service wasn’t open. I finally received my card though, and all is well. But a little word of advice: maybe don’t bring your card with you when you go out and also have some kind of contingency plan with your bank so that there’s a faster way for you to regain access to your money!

Luckily, this little hiccup did not stop me from having an amazing time in Budapest! It was really one of the best trips of my life and I am already trying to find a way to return.

Alleyway in Budapest. St. Stephen’s Basilica is in the background covered by the smog/haze that seemed to coat the city.

View of the Danube River and the Hungarian Parliament building from the bridge leading to Margaret Island.

Hungarian lace and linen at the little market we ran into on the streets of Budapest.

Me standing on the Chain Bridge that leads over the Danube to the Budapest Castle, it was absolutely beautiful!

Stall at the market where the delicious Transylvanian Chimney Cakes were being roasted over a coal burning fire. These were so good and unique tasting that we went back the next day for more!

And of course we had fun at our hostel when they organized an open mic night and some of the guys sang part of a song…over and over again! [youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jmcj1Ilqysc&feature=share[/youtube]

Since I didn’t have much money, I had a nice excuse to have a weekend exploring Galway, something I should have done long ago. I went to the fresh market Galway has on Saturdays downtown, and on Sunday walked to Salthill, a suburb right on the beach outside of Galway.

We got some delicious hot and fresh donuts from one of the stalls at the fresh market! Seriously it was so fresh and hot that it got squished from being in the bag for only a minute or so.

Fresh carrots and onions from one of the vegetable stands at the market.

One of downtown Galway’s main roads on an early Sunday afternoon.

Galway Bay, on the walk to Salthill

View of Salthill from the diving platform…where we saw several people swimming in the freezing cold water, some of them not even wearing wet suits!

The little explorations of Galway came at just the right time, though. After having so much fun in Budapest I was feeling the excitement of Ireland starting to wind down after being here for 2 months (especially since school was starting to get a little more serious with midterms and essays and presentations due and that was what I had to look forward to on my return from Hungary), I was just feeling a little tired of Galway. But exploring the city and the surrounding areas got me excited about Ireland again. Sometimes you just need to change up your routine a little to shake off any bad feelings.

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more surprises

Time March 21st, 2012 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

Today roughly marks the date when I set off for Argentina a month ago. WOW. I remember days before leaving, how extremely nervous I was, and in my anxiety, I was questioning whether I should actually leave home since I wasn’t very confident about my Spanish. I was also worried that I wouldn’t be able to handle homesickness; after all, I’d lived in the Boston area for 10+ years AND Brandeis is only minutes away from my hometown. And yes, I’ve traveled before, but this would be the longest and farthest I’d be away from my family and friends. I kept wondering how I would make it five months. BUT looking back now, I can’t emphasize how extremely relieved I am that I’m here. And while I’m at it, I’ll stress again how Mendoza is the place to be :) It’s essentially the outdoor lover’s dream. The weather is beautiful, palm trees line up the sidewalks, gorgeous parks, inviting flower gardens, and best of all, everything is walking distance! (So far I’m refusing to take the micro/buses until it gets cold. And I’m proud of myself for not needing my map anymore!) With all these things, it’s impossible to feel homesick or stressed out. And that’s another point I want to make (although I think I’ve emphasized it before): I haven’t felt this relaxed in so long. The culture is to live and enjoy life; and so, I’ve been able to shed the stress I’ve always accumulated during the past semesters.

This past weekend was my 21st birthday and St. Patrick’s day, so needless to say, there were celebrations :) The streets were so packed it was hard to find a place to sit down!

On a different note, I went to my first class at UNCuyo yesterday. My friend and I each wrote down the times and names of five classes we wanted to check out before committing to a set schedule. Once we got to the building of the first class, we had to locate the wall that contained information regarding professor names, class hours and locations, and office hours. We were slightly frustrated that the times of all five classes had drastically changed. Furthermore, the classrooms were hard to find (we wondered if there were multiple classrooms with the same number), and I felt more unsure about what my schedule would look like….for example, I wanted to take an art class but every art class is around 16 hours a week. Since I only want to take it for fun and not as an art major, I’m not quite sure I’ll follow through. Anyways, we entered a class about 10 minutes late (oops), and I could immediately sense EVERYONE watching. Which was weird to us, since there was a continuous stream of students coming in the room (AND leaving, darting right past the professor!)! Someone even came an hour and a half late to the class (I wondered why she would bother coming). We tried to blend in with the class and take notes, but it was hard because the professor proceeded to ask us where we were from, and any time US was mentioned in conversation, he pointed toward us. As if we needed more attention….-_-  I thought I imagined the stares, and the curious glances, but my friend confirmed that we actually weren’t. Maybe it’s because we were wearing bright colors. No se.

But I can honestly say that I was relieved. First off, the professor told us he had experience with international students and spoke pretty slowly, so we were able to understand roughly 80% of the lecture. Second, the material was interesting and the other students seemed pretty nice/interested in the class and in us. So I guess it was okay…..but after class, we were told to buy photocopies of the syllabus (programa). Seeing as we had 2 hours until our next class, we went to the photocopier, but the cashier told us there weren’t any syllabi. Confused, we then went to find the professor, and when we couldn’t, we decided to just recover from the class outside, but just as we were about to leave, a Johnny Depp look-a-like professor quickly approached us and INSISTED (VERY STRONGLY) on helping us and wouldn’t leave us alone until he located our professor. So basically, our professor walked us down to the photocopier, reassured us (at least, that’s what it sounded like, at this point I was so exhausted that my brain was refusing to operate at 60mph translating and spitting out Spanish), and directed us to a (very cute) classmate who spoke English and helped us out. It was a long day. 

To be honest, the experience made us miss the school system in the US. Yes, they don’t take attendance here and in a lot of ways it’s easier to get away with things and not to be studious, but in the US, powerpoints would be posted online, all registration and academic information would be easily provided, and everything is very organized. I think I wasn’t expecting myself to have to exert so much energy in finding classes, figuring out my schedule, and operating on my own…..since everything in the US is a lot easier. Don’t get me wrong; I am very capable of acting independently, but it was hard to be independent with no information available, if that makes sense. But complaints aside, I’ve only been to class once, and it can only get better, right?

*Fall is coming to Mendoza! The air is definitely getting slightly chilly, but I’m still loving the weather! I had to keep telling myself it’s FALL, not SPRING, since I’m in the southern hemisphere.

from top to bottom: San Martin Park/acequias, aka “gringo traps”/lake/beautiful sky

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