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Baby Steps—Why Pursue a Degree Abroad?

View from the Music Building, Cork

View from the Music Building, UCC, Cork

by Sarah Elizabeth Lahoud, Higher Diploma of Arts in Music

When I made the decision to quit my job and return to school, Cork City Ireland was my first thought. I had studied abroad here when I was an undergraduate at Fordham University, and I had the most amazing experience. I knew that University College Cork’s Music Department is one of the best in the country. Additionally, because my Bachelors was English, the Higher Diploma course would give me the conversion I needed to switch fields. It was the perfect opportunity. I quit my job, checked my finances, and made preparations to move to Ireland for a couple of years to get my Higher Diploma of Arts in Music and then, hopefully, my Masters degree.

My very first lecture on my first day convinced me I had made the right decision. Music and the Community would be a module that practically demonstrates Ireland’s commitment to the importance of the arts. Ireland is a national model of community music from which many international musicians and music administrators can learn. By studying with UCC’s Music Department, I am ready to broaden the conversation of music and cultural identity in the United States.

Everyone back in the States says I’m adventurous, brave, inspiring. But adventure isn’t about giant moves or foreign countries. It’s a series of baby steps and trusting yourself. Choosing to study abroad for a semester was a big decision, a big change. Choosing to pursue a degree for a year, even two, is a bigger decision. But it was made in the same vain. Beyond the practical benefits, the cultural exposure, the independence, the challenge, and the adventure, at its most basic studying in Ireland is an opportunity. 

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