I’m a senior majoring in Accounting and International Finance at Geneva College. I am in the marching/symphonic band, and I work 2 to 3 jobs during the semester while taking a full credit load. In all, my study abroad experience let me relax for my second-to-last semester of college! Of course, I didn’t realize that before I left. All I knew was that I wanted to study abroad in college, but I didn’t have any plans of where, for how long, or even why. I just knew I wanted to do it, and now, I know why.
Ever since my freshman year, I have attempted to study abroad. Each year, for whatever reason, I was unable to do so – until my senior year. While narrowing down where to go, I needed to find a program that worked with my academic goals. BCA Study Abroad was that provider! After I found out who I wanted to go through, I had to figure out what host university would let me graduate on time. The program had to align with my major requirements, and this criterion landed me in Maynooth, Ireland.
In Ireland, I expected to have more-or-less my life at home, but with some extra adventures on the weekends. Wrong! Everything was different. Classes. Studying. People. Food. Anything you could think of, it was different. I thought I was going to spend all my time studying for the courses I needed to graduate. However, I realized that this experience isn’t solely about classes, but living in general. (Don’t get me wrong, I still did my fair share of studying.)
My life abroad wasn’t just working and school. My life was about grocery shopping, fun nights out, and meeting new people. This opportunity showed me that the mundane stuff that I always took for granted, can be someone else’s adventure. Who knew that a grocery store can have a whole aisle of cheese?! Who knew there were that many kinds of cheese?! I have enjoyed new coffee shops, the next town(s) over, the path that I always walk past but today to finally decide to take. These things seem so simple and yet they make up the whole study abroad experience.
I didn’t understand this concept for the longest time, because it all seemed so “normal.” Then, one day I was talking to my mom, and she wanted to see pictures. That week happened to be one of the weeks that I didn’t go adventuring to another town. I said I didn’t have any pictures for them, and her response was, “Take a picture of the subway line or your classroom. You’re in Ireland! That’s exciting for everyone at home.” To me it was just life, but to them I was the girl who got to achieve her dream and they wanted to be a part in it, even by just following me on Facebook.
This experience showed me why I wanted to study abroad in the first place. I always thought it was because I wanted to go someplace new, experience another culture, etc. The usual responses for studying abroad, and of course, some of that is true. I have experienced other cultures and toured around Ireland and Europe. However, I came to realize that my why was really to find out who I am by myself.
I have 3 older brothers and I am close to my parents. Family-life is a part of who I am, and they all live relatively close to me at home. I haven’t known life without them. I thought I knew who I was and who I wanted to be, and then I came abroad and lived life without them for 3 months. We kept in contact with a weekly video chat, but it wasn’t the same as life at home. I found out rather quickly that who I thought I was and who I wanted to be, weren’t the same person. My life changed for the better, by just understanding who I was without family near me.
This experience was eye opening in so many ways. Ways that I was expecting and ways that I wasn’t. I loved the opportunity to see and do new things as well as learn more about myself, and I hope others will do the same!
About the Author – Olivia Kumher, fall 2018 Dublin, Ireland & Geneva College student
My name is Olivia and I am a Senior graduating with a double major in Accounting and Business with a concentration in International Finance. I am involved in many activities on campus including Marching and Symphonic Bands. Although I am busy with school, family is my top priority and I keep in contact with my parents and 3 older brothers.