A Semester as A Galway Girl Past Review

By (Brandeis University) - abroad from 01/07/2019 to 05/10/2019 with

IFSA: Galway - National University Ireland

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
Studying abroad was ABSOLUTELY worthwhile, and an experience I would encourage anyone to pursue. It was amazing to feel myself become more comfortable and secure with my independence from family and home. I loved traveling to places such as Paris, Madrid, and Edinburgh, and staying with friends while adventuring out. I am so grateful to have had this experience. Also, I learned SO much about Irish culture and their colonial history. It was fascinating, and I feel such admiration for the people in Galway and the rest of Ireland. I love the importance of story-telling and tradition. If possible, you should visit the Aran Islands! Particularly early in the season, when there are no tourists. I went to Inishmore, in late April and it was incredible. We stayed overnight in a beautiful bnb, hiked up to an ancient chapel through cow pastures, and saw the magnificent cliffs of Dun Aonghasa. At the end of the day, we went to Joe Watty's and it was a magical experience.

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 0-2 weeks

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

The classes were more relaxed than Brandeis, which I enjoyed. They were still really interesting! There was not a large pressure to participate, and the professors were more accessible--I found them to be less pretentious, and more kind and communicative than some professors at Deis. They were still experts in their fields. It was difficult, however, to have a class where the grade was determined by a single essay.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I loved living with Irish students! The living experience within my apartment was great. However, the Menlo Park Apartments security guard needs to be replaced. I heard of many peers who had interactions with them that they felt were inappropriate, and yet no action was taken by the apartment manager. She even suggested that they were lying about the experience. I also felt uneasy around him, as sometimes he would just stare and not respond to any greeting.

* Food:

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

I really liked the local culture. One of my favorite things about being in Galway and in Ireland was constantly being surrounded by music!! When walking Shop and Quay street, there are always a few street musicians play music from trad, to folk, to American country music. It is a lively time! Most people were very kind and welcoming.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

I became sick with severe flu-symptoms and had to use the health clinic at NUIG. Aside from the lengthy wait (students cannot make appointments), it was an overall positive experience. I went twice to the clinic and had to miss several classes. The professors were all very understanding, it was pretty easy to get the medications I was prescribed as there is a pharmacy right on campus by the library.

* Safety:

Galway felt pretty safe overall. It has a solid night-out scene, so there are always students heading back and forth from the off campus apartments to the town as late as 11 pm. And, the main road is really well lit. However, I would say that at night, especially when going to pubs, it is good to be with a group of people or at least one other person. There were several times when I was with a group of people in a pub and older men tried to make advances--once even grabbing one of my peer's arms and attempting to pull her towards him. We were also told to avoid the Corrib river at night, as sadly many people drown in the river, whether from intoxication or depression. It was tough to receive two or three emails from NUIG regarding incidents of student deaths involving the river.

If you could do it all over again would you choose the same program? No

I am really happy that I went to Galway! Going abroad was an amazing experience. I'm glad I went to Ireland, because I was able to see other places as well. It allowed me to grow and be more comfortable with independence. That being said, I think I would maybe have enjoyed a program in a different setting, perhaps a warmer climate where drinking was not the main source of fun. But, I really did love Galway for the music, art, and kindness of people.


* 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)


* Did your program have a foreign language component? No

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Apartment
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Local Students
* 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 friendliness of the local Irish
  • The music
* What could be improved?
  • Apartment housing and night guard
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? I actually don't wish that I knew anything. It was important for me to go on this program and to learn and grow from it exactly as it was. I am so grateful that I had this opportunity.