Center for International Programs - Study Abroad

Student Profile:Abby Rivello - National University of Galway, Ireland



Major(s): English and Communications

Abroad Program: National University of Ireland, Galway      

Where: Galway, Ireland

When (Semester & Year): Fall 2012   

Favorite Course: Imagining Modern Ireland: An Introduction to Irish Culture

Highlight:  Having Galway feel like home

Best Excursion:  Edinburgh, Scotland

Favorite Dish: Brown bread!

Least Favorite Dish: None

Next Destination: Hopefully back to Galway first – after that, anywhere!

Describe your most memorable experience while abroad.   

About halfway through the semester, my roommates and I walked down the Salthill Prom along the Galway Bay at sunset – in order to jump off the diving boards at the end. Salthill is the beach town along the coast in Galway, and the diving boards/swimming area was full of locals finishing up their daily swims – but we were the only ones jumping in (and not wearing wetsuits)! The water was absolutely freezing, but the view, the thrill of the jump, and the laughs and conversation we shared with the locals were absolutely exhilarating. Afterwards, we kicked the wall for tradition, and headed home down the Prom. 

Who will you remember most from your study abroad experience and why?

The friends I made there, both from SJU and other universities – and an old Irish man named Mick, who invited me into the Irish set dances every Tuesday night at one of our favorite pubs! 

What did you learn to love about the culture(s)?

The Irish culture is so relaxed, happy, and genuine. They take their time and enjoy the moment, and when they meet you and ask, “How are you?,” it’s because they truly care about you and want to know the answer. I fell in love with the way the Irish culture exudes a contagious feeling of happiness and contentment, and I learned to linger with them, whether it was by a musician on the street or over a pint of Guinness in a pub.

What is one piece of advice you would pass on to a student who is about to study abroad?

Take chances. Don’t be afraid of saying yes and don’t be afraid of the unknown. Some of my best memories from studying abroad were things that I never even dreamed I could do. You only have a few months, so make the most of it. Explore your own city, meet the locals, and eat the local food. Travel, and be open to the fact that just as much learning (if not more) during your study abroad experience will take place outside the classroom. Soak up every moment – especially the ones that become a part of your ordinary routine, like getting a bagel for breakfast at the Saturday market or walking along the river to class. Most importantly, have fun!