The most confidence-building and beautiful experience of my life! Past Review

By (Psychology/Spanish, Berea College) - abroad from 08/28/2012 to 12/15/2012 with

IFSA: Galway - National University Ireland

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I learned much more about myself and about the real world than I learned about academic material. I learned valuable life skills such as greater independence and confidence in my ability to handle nearly any situation that arises, I learned how to communicate more effectively, how to pay attention to detail, how to stay safe and take care of myself, to be open to new experiences, to live in the moment and to continue to set high goals for myself because I can achieve them. If I can achieve a successful semester studying in another country, while coping with all sorts of unexpected occurrences, I can achieve anything! Overall the experience was entirely empowering. Sometimes it is just as beneficial to have learned what you do not like in order to help you decide what you do want. This experience has helped me move toward a greater understanding of what I do want and what I value most in life.

Review Photos

IFSA-Butler: Galway - National University Ireland Photo IFSA-Butler: Galway - National University Ireland Photo IFSA-Butler: Galway - National University Ireland Photo IFSA-Butler: Galway - National University Ireland Photo IFSA-Butler: Galway - National University Ireland Photo

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? None

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

Housing was comfortable and safe.

* Food:

Fresh and healthy food was readily accessible.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

Making Irish friends was easy and there was a great sense of community in Galway.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

I did not have experience with the health care, however a friend of mine did. She had to go to the emergency room and she received excellent care...for free! The Irish healthcare system like most European policies comes with no cost. The only drawback to free healthcare is that waiting periods are quite long to receive care - even in emergency situations.

* Safety:

Campus and the city in general was incredibly safe. Still, I would not recommend walking alone at night or leaving personal items unattended.

If you could do it all over again would you choose the same program? Yes


* Money: How easily were you able to live on a student's budget?

(1 = not very easy/$200+ on food & personal expenses/week, 2.5 = $100/week, 5 = very easily/minimal cost)

Due to a poor economy and the dollar to euro exchange rate, living in Ireland was expensive. One way I compare the cost is that when I traveled to Barcelona and Rome, food and transportation were cheaper than even a small town like Galway, Ireland. Still it was entirely manageable and worth it in the long run. It is possible to survive on a student's budget.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? 65 Euros - roughly 75 Dollars
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Buy off-brand items, cook at home, budget for how many times per week you would like to do entertaining things. Traveling to other places is also manageable if you find inexpensive flights or trains. RyanAir is the cheapest airline to fly throughout Europe.


* Did your program have a foreign language component? Yes
How much did the program encourage you to use the language?

0 = No encouragement, 5 = frequent encouragement to use the language

Most of Ireland speaks English and the program did not require a foreign language to be taken for credit. However, I took a Spanish class at the University and was not highly encouraged to use the language. For instance, English was spoken in class, Spanish was optional for assignments, etc.

How would you rate your language skills at the beginning of the program? Advanced
How would you rate your language skills at the end of the program? Intermediate
What was the highest level language course you had completed prior to departure? 300 level college Spanish courses - I was one course away from completing a minor in Spanish when I left for Ireland.
How many hours per day did you use the language? 0
Do you have any tips/advice on the best ways to practice the language for future study abroad participants? My advice is that unless the University explicitly advertises a particular language program, you should travel to a country in which the language you wish to study is native. I believe the best experience for learning a language comes from visiting a country that speaks that language. If you want to learn Irish, Ireland is the place to go!

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Apartment
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans
* Who did you take classes with?

Select all that apply

  • Local Students
  • Americans
  • International Students
About how many local friends did you make that you will likely keep in touch with?

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • The program allowed us to be as independent as we wanted. They made sure we were safe and they were available for any of our wants and needs, however they gave us room to explore and develop personally.
* What could be improved?
  • Host University assistance
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? Things will change while you are gone. You are not the only person who will change by the time you return. Still, the growth and personal development is for the best.

Reasons For Studying Abroad

To help future students find programs attended by like-minded individuals, please choose the profile that most closely represents you.
The Outright Urbanite
A social butterfly, you're happiest in bustling cities with hip people, and took advantage of all it had to offer. You enjoyed the nightlife, and had fun going out dancing, and socializing with friends. Fun-loving and dressed to the nines, you enjoyed discovering new restaurants, shops, cafes, and bars in your host country.