How have you changed personally?
I feel that the world has been opened to me. I feel a sense of wanting to travel more and getting to know other cultures. Before this trip I’ve dreamed of studying abroad and traveling outside the country, but did not act on those feelings. If it had not been for Carlow University offering this program I would probably still only be dreaming about traveling outside the country. I am no longer afraid to step out and try new things and/or expose myself to the unfamiliar. I also feel wiser since being abroad. My perspective has been changed in many ways when it comes to humanity in this country and the way we care for people. Also the meaning we place on work and family.
How has your professional/academic goals changed?
Since studying abroad my professional goals have changed in terms of the population of clients that I would like to work with. Prior to studying abroad I had a very strong preference to work with children and adolescents. After being in Ireland and working with the special needs population, which at my site was adult women in a day program. I have gained an interest in possibly working with the special needs population here in the states and also working with adults. As far as academics are concerned I am wishing for another opportunity to study abroad. I wish there was another class that I could substitute, so that I can go again. What I learned during my exploration in Ireland, contact with the locals, and placement cannot be taught in a classroom.
What self-discovery surprised you?
I have always been referred to as strong and independent, but I did not recognize it until I studied abroad. I realized that I have a sense of determination that will not allow anyone or anything to get in my way of accomplishing my dreams/ goals.
How did you navigate through your fears and apprehensions that you had prior to studying abroad?
I really did not have any fears or apprehensions about studying abroad. My biggest concern was being informed in a timely manner about what was planned for the trip, having the itinerary, and knowing what I needed to pack.
How has studying abroad impacted your view of the world?
Studying abroad has impacted my view of the world by showing me that there are different ways to live and enjoy life. I learned that it is important to stop and take the time to listen to others. I also learned that you should slow down in life and learn to enjoy and appreciate every moment. As Americans we rush too much and spend too much time working. Not enough time enjoying life.
Single greatest benefit of studying abroad?
The single greatest benefit to studying abroad is learning about another country, the customs, and the people. There are many nationalities in the world we live in along with many languages and customs. It is important to take the time to learn from each other. If more people worked together we might be able to find ways to resolve some of the world problems and be able to make this world a better place.
What was your favorite experience and why?
My favorite experience was working at my placement site. It was difficult for me to switch my way of thinking. I was focused on the productivity and justification of what was being done and why. This is what I am trained to do at work daily. I have a hard time accepting the way that things were run at my site. I found it difficult to just sit and talk with the “service users” initially. Once I figured out how to accept what was in front of me and accepting the difference in how they value worth I was able to enjoy myself and embrace the “service users” I was working with. At that point I felt valuable.
What advice would you give to future participants?
For future participants I would suggest letting go of what you know and what you feel is right and being open to learning a new way of living. See the world in a different light. Embrace a new culture.
Would you study abroad again? Where? Why?
I would definitely study abroad again. I am not sure where I would want to go. I would do it to continue to discover things about myself and also to get a chance to continue learning about another culture and their ways.