Blog post by WSA Intern and UCC Student Ambassador Taylor Brady
There was a certain distance between who I wanted to be and who I was, and that distance was approximately 3,000 miles.
I wasn’t afraid of what I was doing or what was ahead. If anything, I was most worried about the girl I would be on the other side of this adventure; the girl who would never be able to sit still again. Yet in the middle of January of this year, I finally packed a suitcase and a back pack, I bundled up and I left for Cork, Ireland.
I was hardly a few days in when I already felt at home in Cork and at UCC. Not only was the campus beautiful, but everyone I met was overwhelmingly kind. Despite the barrage of information being thrown my way, I already couldn’t have been happier with my decision. I was at a “smart travelling” presentation when I first met Kate, an ambassador for a student-focused travel company called Weekend Student Adventures (WSA for short).
While her travel stories and trip descriptions piqued my attention, the mention of an internship opportunity is what drew me to talk to her at the end of the talk. She graciously explained to me about the program, which allows students like me to become promoters of WSA. She told me that for every person that used my discount code (Travel10 if you ever want to use mine!) to book a trip, I would get credits towards my own potential trips. Enough of them and I could go on my own WSA for free.
I’m not one for passing up chances like that, so I applied online like she suggested, and within a few days I had an interview scheduled. Kate was both kind and clear with asking questions and in explaining the internship expectations. At the end, I was offered a position and you guessed it, I accepted.
From then on, WSA became a part of my phenomenal UCC experience. Through talking to people and getting a few friends signed up, I soon found myself with enough credit for two free trips; all I had to pay for were my plane tickets and a few snacks along the way.
I decided to use one of my trips to go to Paris with some friends in March. The weekend there ended up being right out of a movie: picturesque, enchanting, and ultimately one of my favorite weekend trips of the semester. I used my second trip to go to Amsterdam where I enjoyed endless colors, fresh stroopwaffles and breathtaking tulip gardens.
The most special aspect of these trips (and of WSA in general) is how connected you get to feel with the place you are. WSA trips are led by the countries’ natives who know the languages and cultures to their cores, and who are teaching you new things every time you round a corner. At UCC I had time to throw myself into the Irish culture and got to take my time exploring and figuring things out on my own. When you’re only somewhere new for a few days though, WSA guides are truly invaluable for this very purpose.
Studying abroad University College Cork is one the absolute best things to ever happen to me, plain and simple. A day spent exploring there was always a day well spent. I also ended up being incredibly fortunate that I stumbled upon WSA and got to integrate its internship, a couple of their trips and my experience into five unforgettable months.
I go back to UCC a lot. My memories come alive with stone archways, emerald greens and castle silhouettes. My favorite reading spot in the UCC library beckons me, and the walkway along the river running through campus sighs. No matter where I go from here, I know there will always be a piece of Ireland, as well as those of places across Europe, within me. Leaving certainly wasn’t a goodbye, but a “see you later,” and I know that when I return some day that Cork will say “welcome back” and I will smile because I know I am home.