Name: Rachel Dennen
Major(s): Food Marketing Co-op
Abroad Program: University College of Cork
Location: Cork, Ireland
Term: Fall 2013
Favorite Course: Food Marketing Research
Highlight: Feeling a part of a new culture, and being able to travel throughout the continent easily.
Best Excursion: Traveling to Paris, France and seeing all of the magical landmark sites there!
Favorite Dish: Smoked Salmon
Least Favorite Dish: Black pudding (made with pig's blood!)
Next Destination: Unsure!
What did you learn to love about the culture(s)?
I learned to love the slower pace of the Irish culture. I am one of those people who get antsy while waiting for my coffee at Starbucks and waiting in lines at the self-checkout in the grocery store, because I expect everyone to work efficiently and quickly. The Irish live on something called “Irish time” which means that they normally show up about a half an hour later than the meeting time they set. I quickly learned what Irish time means, as my Irish Early Start class professor showed up twenty minutes after the set meeting time for field trips. “Irish time” definitely took some getting used to and tested my patience, as I was used to being early to meetings, but I learned to enjoy it after about a month.The Irish worked at a slower pace, too. As I previously stated, I expected quick customer service before studying in Ireland. I knew that most European cultures eat meals slower and use going out to eat as a time for socializing, so I expected service to take longer while traveling abroad. The Irish did not stay out to dinner as long as I expected, but Parisians did. My patience was definitely tested while out to eat in Paris, because they take hours to eat a meal—so the service took longer. I enjoyed making a night of eating dinner, because it felt more relaxed and enjoyable than eating out in the states.
I have become more patient, and don’t mind waiting a bit longer for food and friends. I think this is an important quality to have, because the American culture is set around being fast-paced. Realizing that waiting a couple extra minutes won’t impact your day overall helps one feel more calm and in control of the situation.
How did the location enhance your academic experience?
The location enhanced my study abroad experience, because it allowed me to travel easily. There is an airport in Cork that I was able to fly out of to get to Paris, Amsterdam, and London. This easy access to an airport saved travel time and allowed more time to explore the different places I went to. The school I studied at has a food business program, which was convenient because of my food marketing major. I was able to take two interesting food marketing classes, which taught me a lot because they focused on the Irish food industry—which I probably would have never learned about if I didn’t study abroad. These classes allowed me to gain perspective on a foreign business strategy, which allows me to think from a broader viewpoint. This knowledge is invaluable for my overall business education.
What is one piece of advice you would pass on to a student who is about to study abroad?
One piece of advice I would pass on to a student who is about to study abroad is the same advice I was told before I studied abroad, which is to keep an open mind. Being abroad brings the opportunity to experience different cultures, embrace these new experiences all that you can! You will learn so much from simple conversations with locals, and keeping an open mind allows you to feel more a part of the culture while abroad. Most people love to share their stories with you, so listen to these stories and share your own stories of life in the states! Some of my most memorable experiences are conversations I had with locals while out, because they were candid about growing up in Ireland, and loved that an American student wanted to listen to these stories. Foreigners are judging the US based on how you treat them, so be patient and embrace a new culture!