Center for International Programs - Study Abroad

Student Profile: Elizabeth Parker - University College of Cork, Ireland

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Major(s): Interdisciplinary Health Services

Abroad Program: University College of Cork

Where & When: Cork, Ireland; Fall 2013

Favourite Course: Virology

Highlight: The friends that I made abroad and being able to explore some many new parts of Europe!

Best Excursion: Paris, France and practicing my French speaking skills!

Favourite Dish: Tea & Scones

What did you learn to love about the culture?

I learned to love the friendly atmosphere that surrounds you in every small Irish town.  Anyone is willing to talk to you or help you when needed.  I loved the Irish accent and being able to relate to people there more than I had anticipated.  The Irish culture is not too far off from the American Culture, with a few exceptions of course.  They live a much slower paced life and people are much more laid back about everything in general.  I loved to go out at nights for a ”Trad Night” and listen to the classic Irish music.  It was fun to learn many of these songs and dance to them.  I learned that instead of reading sheet music, these musicians learn the songs simply by hearing them throughout their lives.  One person would start to play a song, and then whoever knew the notes would join in.  The culture would not be complete without its scenery and I could’ve looked off the Irish cliffs or across rolling green hills forever.  I will never forget the things I saw or the people I was lucky enough to meet.  Also, I went to Ireland not liking tea, and after a week of being there I was addicted.  The Irish are very proud of their Barry’s Tea and I now understand why!

How did the location enhance your academic experience?

University College Cork is much bigger than SJU, with just under 20,000 students.  This was a very different experience for me but I liked it!  There were always so many people around and in the city centre as well.  There was never a dull moment with so many activities going on all the time.  I’m glad I chose Cork because as the second largest city in Ireland, with only 200,000 people it was big enough to always find something new, but not so big that I ever had to worry about getting lost.  The classes I took were pretty similar to classes I would have had here, but the emphasis was on Ireland.  For example, in my Global Health class, my teacher always referred to statistics in Ireland as the baseline in comparison to the rest of the world.  My international Money and Finance class was also interesting because they were primarily concerned with the Euro as opposed to the American Dollar in currency exchanges

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

Make an effort to befriend the students wherever you are lucky enough to study.  Also, if you become roommates with them, be sure to get to know them.  I had an Italian, a French, and a half Irish/ half Tanzanian roommate.  They taught me so much about their lives at home as we all got to experience the Irish culture together for the first time.  I was even fortunate enough to be invited to an Irish home for a home cooked meal…and dessert. Most importantly, enjoy your time and take advantage of every opportunity to see something new, I promise you will not be disappointed.  Never be afraid to try something new, whether it’s food or an adventure, if the people there love it, it must be good!