By: Holly Dugan, UCC Student Ambassador
So, you’ve already made a great decision by deciding to study abroad at University College Cork, but where do you go from here? Remember that while four or five months seems like a long time, it will fly by, so you must take advantage of every moment! Here are some tips on how to make your time abroad the absolute best it can be.
- Familiarize yourself with Cork and the UCC campus prior to attending classes:
Cork City may seem small, but it is full of shops, pubs, museums, etc. Make it a point to become familiar with where things are (i.e.: the post office for sending packages, the Garda (police) station, banks, etc.), and you will save loads of time! The UCC campus is also spread throughout the city, so knowing where your classes might be before they start will be of great help so that you won’t arrive to class late or get lost along the way.
- Join a team or a club:
My biggest regret of my study abroad experience at UCC was not following through with staying involved in a club or sport during my semester. There are so many opportunities to meet new people from all over the world by joining an on-campus club or society and having fun along the way! I originally signed up to join a hiking club (something I LOVE to do), but never followed through with it. Take advantage of these opportunities, and joining and participating could wind up becoming the best decisions you’ve ever made (besides studying at UCC, of course). Some of the students I was with joined a rugby team at UCC, and not only made lifelong friends, but also were able to travel all over Ireland and play a sport that is popular in the country. If sports aren’t your thing, there are hundreds of other clubs available to join as well!
- Hang out on campus:
Studying abroad opens doors, making it easy to meet new people from all over the world. However, if you hibernate in your apartment or only stay with the students in your program, you will miss out on chances to connect with new people. You’ve already stepped out of your comfort zone by making the decision to study abroad, so keep it up and hang out on campus in order to meet new students! On top of all of this, the UCC campus is absolutely beautiful, so you should take the time to enjoy it while you can.
This seems like a very simple piece of advice, but it is important. Cork City is considered the food capital of Ireland; by stepping one foot into the famous English Market, you’ll understand why. The market is located in the heart of Cork City on Grand Parade and has served the people of Cork since the 1700s. The food is incredibly fresh there and very reasonably priced. Make it a routine to pick up your groceries at the booths in the English Market and make some hearty, healthy meals; you’ll come to realize that you will be saving a lot of money by making the trip to the English Market rather than to Tesco! Just remember that unlike food in America, preservatives are not used to keep food fresh for longer than a couple of days in Ireland, so you’ll have to make a few trips a week for foods that normally go bad. It is important to stay healthy while studying abroad, especially while traveling and exploring Cork and beyond!
- Travel around Ireland:
Some of the best advice I received before studying abroad at UCC was that I should make it a point to see a lot of Ireland. I honestly believe that by following this advice, and allowing myself time to travel around the country during my four months there, made me fall even more in love with the country. Yes, Europe as a whole is amazing and there are so many countries to visit, but Ireland is absolutely beautiful and, since you chose it as your place of study, why not explore it as well? Ireland is about the size of the state of Maine, and quite accessible by bus or train, so there is no reason why you shouldn’t be able to see it all. Take in the beautiful countryside, make your way to famous restaurants and pubs, and make sure to visit other cities like Galway and Dublin. My favorite memory when studying at UCC was when my father came and we drove through the country, so I promise you, it’s all worth seeing!
Most importantly, I must reiterate that these four or five months will fly by, so remember to enjoy every moment of your study abroad experience and make it your own.
In the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Do not follow where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.”
My name is Holly Dugan and I am currently a senior Public Relations/Sociology student at Quinnipiac University in Hamden, Connecticut. During the fall of 2013, I studied abroad at University College Cork and fell in love with all things Irish. I still have a severe case of wanderlust and love to travel, whether that means in Europe or New England, where I spent most of my vacation time this past summer. I was raised in New York, and absolutely love the city, but my happy place is definitely at the beach. I enjoy writing, running, and fall scents (especially pumpkin spice). In the future, I hope to pursue a career that allows me to see the world.