Article from Study Abroad Office
Abigail Bope is a rising CALS senior majoring in biological and agricultural engineering with a minor in horticulture. With scholarship assistance, she participated in the University College Cork study abroad program in Ireland during the spring of 2022.
Abigail, tell us about your trip!
Studying in Ireland was an incredible cultural reset. It allowed me to learn what the United States school systems omit from their curricula, from world geography to the diverse views of the United States and its people. After spending just a few months in Ireland, I have learned more about geography, languages and cultures than I have in 20 years within the U.S. educational system. Every day has more opportunities than I could have imagined.
What did you learn while abroad?
While in Ireland, I learned more about myself, my views and how the world works. I would not change this opportunity for the world. My experience of Irish culture ranged from small, seven-person morning classes in unheated rooms to the city-closing, thousand-person St. Patrick’s Day parade to enjoying a sunny day outside with other city dwellers. It’s challenging to describe my stay in Ireland, but it was a lifetime opportunity and helped me make lasting, transformative connections worldwide.
What is your favorite memory from studying in Ireland?
Traveling to Ireland knowing only one person from the U.S. gave me the chance to build new connections with people from other parts of the world.
I journeyed to the Aran Islands with other international students. I woke up at dawn and took a bus and a ferry to Inis Mór, a tiny island with about 800 people. I had the day to explore the island, climb through military forts, sit on the edge of sea cliffs, pet horses and experience the grand re-opening of the island’s favorite pub, which had closed due to the pandemic.
How did Study Abroad prepare you for life during and after college?
Studying abroad has helped me to “unlearn” typical habits of American university students; I now understand that there needs to be a balance between coursework and every other aspect of life, such as socializing or working. When I returned to NC State, I understood how important it is to maintain a life balance. Beyond college, I believe the program helped me understand how Americans approach various issues differently and implement solutions in contrast to other countries. Learning in another country helped me to broaden my views on social problems, solutions to those problems and approaches to the current realities.
Would you recommend this study abroad program to other students? What would you tell them?
Yes, absolutely! This program allows you to experience a different view of university life, classes and culture. The Irish approach to college coursework, employment and social activity teach you to take a step back and focus on having a life while completing your degree. I believe this philosophy is more balanced than the American approach.
What advice do you have for CALS students considering studying abroad?
Research the culture of the university you’ll attend and the country where you will live. From my and others’ experiences, the country’s culture will significantly define your experience more than the university work itself. Also, research the weather and realistically judge how different it is from your current location. It was a big shock to move to Ireland in the middle of the winter to find out that most buildings, especially ones at universities, don’t have heat.