Choosing to study abroad is a huge, life-changing decision. Not only are you immersed in a new culture, you’re also provided opportunities to travel to new places. However, too often the excitement of travel can overshadow the importance of academics abroad. After all, it is called study abroad; emphasis on the study portion. Organization is key to balancing travel and academics. It is also important to research and choose a location that will benefit your major while you’re traveling to learn.

One of the reasons I chose to study abroad in Ireland with BCA is because it helped me to fulfill my major courses. Before leaving, I heard a lot about students who said that the classes they took abroad that did not count towards the courses they were required to take at their home school. However, I found that Maynooth University offered an abundant amount of courses that helped me towards my economics degree. If the program didn’t already seem like a great fit, Maynooth’s course offering had more variety than my home school. They offered diverse courses such as Economics of Sports, Innovation Management & Change Management, and Organizational Development. To my benefit, these courses will count for my upper division electives!

I believe that studying economics in a different country will also be beneficial when searching for future employment after graduation. Firstly, I now have a better idea of what I can do with my economics degree based on classes I have taken. I can also put those areas of study on my resume when applying for jobs. Last, but not least, having the ability to put study abroad on my resume is an added bonus that will help set me a part from other applicants.

What excites me about the courses I am taking abroad, are the different view points I am learning about in business and economics. In this field, it is very important to understand cultural differences, local business practices, and diverse economic backgrounds. At first, being in a class with all Irish students was a bit intimidating because they all knew each other. I felt like the outsider who was trying to catch up on how courses were designed. I’ll admit that I was a bit shy and hesitant to speak because of my American accent compared to their Irish accents. However, I quickly learned that everyone was extremely kind and willing to help me. When I finally broke out of my shell and asked a question to the person sitting next to me, they wasted no time helping me to find classrooms and understand how to submit my assignments online. It was also at that moment that they realized I was foreign student!

Group projects have also allowed me to meet and interact with the Irish students. The biggest piece of advice I would give to anyone studying abroad is to not be afraid to talk to your fellow classmates. Especially if you are shy, it can be nerve-wracking talking to people you have never met. In fact, it can feel like freshmen year all over again. But, remind yourself that you’ve made it this far. You’re sitting in a different country, at a new school; just say hello. After all, one of the reasons why we study abroad is the ability to meet new people and experience different cultures (while also focusing on your academics)!

About the Author – Taylor Cumming, Spring 2018 Dublin, Ireland Storyteller & University of La Verne student

Taylor is a junior economics major with a speech communication minor at the University of La Verne in California. As a BCA Storyteller, Taylor is always looking for her next adventure and studying abroad in Ireland is helping her to do just that!

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