Thursday, May 12

A Final Farewell...

I finally finished a video I have been working on about my time here, and thought I would share it. It can't possibly describe how fantastic my experience was here, but maybe it will give you an idea..

Wednesday, May 11

The End Is In Sight :(

With things winding down and the prospects of returning home quickly becoming a reality, I thought that I should make a recap type of post. As a George Mitchell Peace Exchange Scholar I, like previous students, was asked to fill out an evaluations of my time here. The evaluation is pretty extensive and definitely sums up my experience here with the exchange. I hope any future applicants or Mitchell Scholars will find it helpful during their decision making processes!

Please briefly summarize your academic program in Ireland:

My academic program at CIT consisted of 5 modules (courses) from two separate majors, Business Administration and Accounting. My modules included Business Management, Accounting and Computer Applications, Communications, Business Maths and Statistics, and Marketing.

Please answer the following questions as completely as possible. Use as much space as you need.
1. What were your goals going into the exchange? Please list them in priority order, if possible.

Coming into the exchange my goals were to leave Ireland more confident, traveled, with new friends and having had enjoyed my time here to the fullest. Having never left the country before I knew that everything I was about to experience would be new. I also knew that I have grown the most as person during times of uncertainty. I was nervous about leaving home and being homesick but the possible outcomes of being a Mitchell Scholar and experiencing a semester abroad in Ireland out weighed any sort of negatives I could have even imagined.

2. Taking each goal in turn, rank how well you think you achieved it on a scale of 1-5, when 5=excellent.
Were you satisfied with this result? Why or why not?

As my time in Ireland is coming to an end, I can look at those goals and truly say that I have accomplished every one of them. I am definitely returning home a more confident person, and I would rate the success of achieving that goal a 5. When you are forced out of your comfort zone you find abilities in yourself you otherwise never would have discovered. From this experience I know that I could easily make a life for myself wherever I end up after school, whether that be in another country or even just another state. Apart of that was realizing how easy it is to make friends once you open up to people. Opening up lead me to make friendships that I know will be life long. So as for new friendships, I would also give that a 5. I know I will see some of these people again, whether it is I going to visit them or them visiting me. With the bonds that we have formed here our paths are bound to cross again. As far as traveling goes I would have to give that a 4. I feel as though I traveled Ireland pretty extensively and even made a trip to Scotland, but there are still places I wish I could have visited while I was here. Lastly I would have to say that I achieved my goal of enjoying my time here to the fullest. I would give that a 4 because my only regret is not opening up to my peers sooner and I hate to think that I may have wasted even a day just because I didn’t put myself out there early enough.

3. What social/cultural activities did you participate in? How big a part of your experience were they?

My participation in social activities was pretty extensive. Once I fell into a routine, almost everyday I was either hanging out with other foreign students, classmates, or my roommates. We would visit clubs or pubs together, go sightseeing, or even just watch movies at someone apartment. As far as organized activities go, I attended weekly Taekwondo lessons and was a member of CIT’s International Student Society. ISS put on a long list of events throughout the year and was a great way of meeting other international students. The social and cultural activities that I participated in were a huge part of my experience. They are what made my experience so successful. Without participating in activities on and around campus I know that I would not have enjoyed my time in Ireland as much as I have.

4. What advice do you have for next year’s Mitchell Scholars on daily living: banking, laundry, food, computer use, talking with home, what to bring from home, local customs/ways of doing things, etc.?

When you first arrive in Ireland you are going to be experiencing many mixed emotions. To ease yourself into these new surroundings I would definitely recommend getting Skype to stay in touch with family and friends. It is free to video chat if the other person has a Skype account as well, and their calling plans are really cheap. I would also recommend bringing some photos from home. Just as another tip, as a female I feel like I over packed as far as clothes are concerned. It didn’t help that I also bought some clothing while here. So if you can, try and account for that. My lifeline while here became my laptop and I would strongly recommend bringing yours. Also when you arrive you need really be an advocate for yourself and make sure that your classes and bank account are being set up. There was a delay with my account and that really put me at a disadvantage for a week and a half or so. As far as laundry and food go, as long as you budget the stipend is plenty to cover these costs. Let me just warn, laundry is really expensive (for very small machines) and food here does not contain the amount of preservatives that we are used to and expires much more quickly. Apart from driving on the other side of the road, you may also notice when you arrive a general easygoing attitude from the locals. This can be great but also a little aggregating especially when you are trying to get your class schedule set up or things like that.

5. What advice do you have on academics: getting along in class and with instructors, studying, etc.?

Do not hesitate to ask questions! My first few classes I was really shy and nervous to speak up. It was only until I started getting lonely in class that I realized I needed to make an effort. After that things went a lot more smoothly and I even became very good friends with some of the other people in my course. You really do want to try and at least be friendly with your classmates. I quickly found that they were more than willing to help when I didn’t understand something or needed notes from a previous class. This will help will studying. A few times I joined my classmates before midterms and we held some study group sessions. At CIT your grades will mostly be based on your midterm and final tests scores. With that in mind, do not wait to study the material because you will soon see how fast a semester’s worth of notes accumulates. As far as instructors go, I found it helpful to introduce myself and explain my situation, since some of my professors where unaware I was new to the class and school.

6. What advice do you have on social and campus life, such as student clubs, dorm living, meeting and making friends?

Get involved, and don’t be afraid to put yourself out there. It’s pretty simple, if you get involved in any of the various clubs on campus and speak up you will have no trouble making friends. Everyone I have met from ERASMUS students to my Irish roommates and classmates have been very welcoming and friendly. There are going to be people you get along with more easily and form deeper connections with but there is no way of knowing who those people are unless you get involved and step out of your comfort zone. I promise you will not regret coming out of your shell, you will however regret it if you don’t.

7. What advice do you have on travel and sightseeing? Did you have/use a CIT student ID card?  Yes  No

Travel as much as you can! You’re in Europe, when else will you find round trip airfare to London for 50 Euros? I wish I could have done more traveling, and it is not as though my travel was limited. I have done a lot of traveling inside Ireland. The public transportation system here is great. You can get just about anywhere by bus. It also helped me out a lot to make list of everything I wanted to see in Ireland before I came here. Buy some travel books and see what seems interesting, and I bet you can find some other students who feel the same and are more than willing to accompany you. Even if you don’t visit/ do everything on your list it helped me quite a bit when planning my weekends. Also, always have your student ID card on you. You will get discounts on a variety of things from bus fare to clothing stores and even entrance to nightclubs in Cork. It really pays to be a student here.

8. What was the most difficult part of the exchange for you?

Before coming to Ireland I had assumed that I would be battling homesickness. Upon my arrival I did feel homesick, for a couple days. It really was not that bad, Skype helped a lot and the longer I was here the more people I met and the busier I became. Home didn’t cross my mind too often until the latter part of my trip. Fortunately or not, life does not stop while you are over here. I had a lot going on at home that began to affect my overall mood and state of mind while I was here. Some things of course are unexpected and unavoidable but there were things that I could have dealt with before I left for Cork, such as applying to transfer to other schools. I will be finishing my degree this summer at SMCC, so while here I was applying to four-year institutions to transfer to. That was really difficult to manage while in another country. Having someone reliable at home manage your mail, bills and little things like that will help out a lot especially if you don’t live with your parents.

9. What was the most beneficial aspect of the exchange or the thing you’ll remember most?

The most beneficial aspect from this exchange is the change that I have seen in myself. I am definitely leaving Ireland more comfortable and confident with myself than I ever thought possible. This of course occurred through all the incredible experiences I had and shared with the amazing people I’ve met and formed friendships with. I will never forget the people I’ve met here and know that I will one day visit them and one day they will come and visit me.

10. Has this experience changed how you look at the world or your part in it? If so, why and how?

This experience has changed the way I look at a lot of things. I now understand how truly connected as human beings we are. There definitely is an underlying and universal human understanding that you cannot really comprehend from a second hand source. For me it was the small moments that made me realize that no matter where two people come from or what they have experienced there is a connection that can be made, and however small or large that connection is when it does occur its only too natural. I’ve realized through this that we try too hard to categorize people when really sometimes you just need to take things for face value.