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Ambassador Meg Kavanagh Discusses Blogging, Travel, and the Early Start Program!

My name is Meg Kavanagh and I am an American fourth year student at St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. During the Fall of 2013, I embarked on the greatest adventure of my life so far and hopped across the pond to live in Cork, Ireland and study at UCC.  Throughout my 4 months in Ireland, I was very fortunate to be able to pursue a lot of my interests and make the most of my time. As a member of the UCC Ladies Soccer Club, the UCC Trampoline Club, and the Cancer Club, I was able to not only enjoy my classes at UCC, but was also able to live through my love of sports, my passion to end cancer, and my desire to make amazing memories and friends along the way to help complete and make my journey incredible. In addition, one of my all-time favorite activities is to travel! While Ireland was incredible, and while I did get to see a lot of it, I also took advantage of the close location to other places and traveled with friends to London, Rome, and Munich in addition to all over Ireland.

With all of those great adventures happening, and all of the wonderful memories being formed, my family and friends back in America wanted “an in”! As a blogger through my journey, I thought it was a great way to spread the excitement of my time to loved ones at home, to get the creative juices flowing, and to give me something tangible that I can look back on to relive those moments in later years. In the end, blogging became a really great resource and something that I really enjoyed!  So stay tuned readers! My first UCC blog is coming soon!

Meg 1

Having been back in the States for over a year since my abroad experience, it is more exciting than ever to look back on the great adventure that it was, and let’s be honest I STILL can’t stop talking about it. From the very beginning, through to my last day on December 16th, 2013, every single day I wish I could go back to relive the best decision I have ever made!

Starting way back in August, my experience began with the Early Start Program, offered only to American students at UCC. Let me tell you, participating in Early Start couldn’t have been a better decision. The program allowed us to get acquainted with the campus, the town, the way of life, and the people just a little bit better before the mass of 16,000 students came onto campus. And honestly- coming from a campus in the USA that only has roughly 5,000 students on it, I was very nervous for the huge transition of students. Little did I know, among this large group of students I would make new friends, memories, and relationships to last a lifetime.

One month into the experience, I was even more in love with UCC than I ever thought I could be. That extra month helped me to make an amazing core group of friends that helped make this place feel like home, and boy did we have some adventures. We even managed to make some Irish friends (which, not going to lie, made us feel pretty cool because we had an “in” with the locals), and had some savage craic (no, not the drug… it means fun!) with them. Being there in August versus September when the regular semester starts for the Early Start Program, we’d also managed to go to some pretty cool places throughout Ireland. My Early Start Class, “Irish Folklore & Tradition”, had field trips included which allowed us to go on adventures to different spots around County Cork. My favorite part about the sites we visited was that they were places that I might have never even known existed: Bunratty Castle and Folk Park, Kilcrea Friary, Glandore, Drombeg Stone Circle, and Gougane Barra. And don’t worry- all the Early Start classes are awesome, and all have field trips. Who doesn’t love field trips in college? Sign me up!

Being a business major, it was really cool to be able to take a break from the textbook style marketing and statistic classes, and to instead learn a little bit of what Ireland really used to be like when my ancestors lived here and the traditions and rituals that surrounded their everyday life. My professor, Shane Lehane, was so passionate about what he was teaching it made it feel like more than just another class that you have to take to be able to graduate. He made it enjoyable to go to class… aside from the fact that it started at 9:30 every day- hey you can’t ask too much of a student in Ireland! Who knew that learning about baskets could have such an effect on me? You go Shane Lehane. Thanks for knowledge.

Finally, my favorite part of taking advantage of the Early Start Program was honestly the extra time. I got to see and learn so much more about the country I was living in and, to me, that is so valuable. It allowed my new friends and I to take an awesome class (leaving only 4 classes the rest of the semester), and gave us extra time to explore our new country! We went to places in Cork and beyond, like Blarney Castle, the Cliffs of Moher, Cobh (the last port the Titanic left out of before its tragic maiden voyage), and enjoyed the Hurling Championship, one of the best times to be in Cork ever! Finally, by the time the other students arrived on campus, we didn’t feel quite as much like outsiders looking in, but like this new, crazy, awesome place, was our new home.

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