Center for International Programs - Study Abroad

Student Profiles: Kyle Hopkins, National University of Galway, Ireland

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Major: Finance

Abroad Program: NUI Galway

Where: Galway, Ireland

When: Fall 2012

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

Highlight: Waking up every day and knowing I was in Ireland

Best Excursion: Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany

Favorite Dish: Beef and Guinness Stew

Least Favorite dish: None, whoever said the Irish can’t cook was wrong

Next Destination: Back to Galway as soon as I can

What did you learn to love about the culture?

Ireland is the most beautiful Country in the world with its cliffs and infinite shades of green, but it is the people and their culture that make it the best place imaginable. They are the friendliest people you will ever meet and I guarantee that all you have to do is spend five minutes in one of the many pubs and you will be best friends with everyone there. They love Americans and will make you feel welcome. I learned to love that they are content with a simple, modest life and enjoy the little things. They care more about spending time with family and friends and their cheerfulness is contagious. Happiness is their only goal in life and I guarantee that you will find that while you’re there. It was amazing seeing all the different cultures throughout Europe and being able to compare all the differences and yet notice so many similarities. It’s something that I can’t describe by writing this; you have to experience it for yourself. Also, the Irish brogue is the greatest accent ever and I spent my whole semester dedicated to developing mine.

Describe your living situation.

Galway is the third largest City in the Republic of Ireland and I couldn’t have asked for a better living situation. I lived in an apartment building called “Niland House” with three other students from Saint Joe’s and we had two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a living room, and a kitchen. The owner, Oliver Niland, is a tiny little Irishman who was very accommodating. The first thing he will ask you when you arrive is if your family has roots in Ireland and then he will talk to you for days about the area where your family is from. We were located a block away from “Shop Street” which is where all the restaurants, pubs, and shops were. We spent the majority of our time there so it was great to live so close to everything. On the other side of our building was Galway bay where we could walk and see the ocean and all the ships docked. The school was about a fifteen minute walk from our building and it was the most beautiful walk you could ever ask for. From our building you followed the “River Corrib” all the way until the Galway Cathedral and then you were at the NUIG campus. Every day I looked forward to taking that walk (even when it rained.)

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

Don’t waste a moment. Say yes to every experience and do everything you can. You can sleep when your home so don’t waste too much time doing it there. You have four months to do and see as much as possible. Go out as much as you can and meet as many people as you can. Stay out late at the pubs and wake up early to travel throughout Ireland and the rest of Europe. Drink a pint of Guinness with the locals, sit on top of the cliffs at the Aran Islands, kiss the blarney stone, meet people from around the world, eat foods that you never thought you could, take it all in because you will never get this chance again in your life. The worst thing I could imagine would be to come back to America and wish you had done something that you didn’t. If you come back with no regrets I guarantee this will be the most amazing experience you will ever have. College may be the best four years of your life but studying abroad will be the best four months of your life.