Student Stories

Looking to study abroad in Ireland? Many of your peers have embarked on this journey, enabling them to learn more about different cultures, as well as to learn more about themselves. Read about some experiences students had while abroad. 

Katie Canter

Junior
Creative Advertising
Summer, 2019

How would you describe your experience abroad?

Eye opening. I was able to experiences things that I never thought I would and make connections everywhere I went. I learned so much about the kind of person I am and gained insight into possible career paths that I am going to consider in my internship and job search.

What made your time in Ireland an invaluable experience?

Being able to experience a new culture and learn about the history of Ireland that was underexaggerated in the states is something that I will never forget. Exploring many parts of Ireland was a great way to learn about everything and see the differences and similarities of different landscapes, culture, and people.

How did immersing yourself in another culture like the one in Ireland change your outlook on life?

Immersing myself in Irelands culture has changed my outlook on life by seeing how many possibilities in life that I have and to follow my passions. Getting to meet so many different people in different professions was very inspiring.

While abroad, what are some things you were able to do besides travel and course work?

I was able to gain new friendships with people I would otherwise have never met at JMU. I also stepped out of my comfort zone a lot by trying new foods and going in a bog in Connemara. The trip was a perfect mix of adventure and outdoor time, city life, and educational experiences.

If a friend were to ask you about going abroad, what would you say?

Go for it, its one of the best experiences but save a ton of money before you go so you have some leftover for when you get home!

What is something you will always remember from being abroad?

The bog. Getting to unplug for two days in Connemara to bond with the people on the trip and hike, have a campfire, and participate in group activities. Being in Galway for 4 weeks and feeling more like a local everyday. Presenting and winning the case competition at Deloitte in Dublin. I value the experience with the case competition and now have created interest in a company I wasn’t considering an option before.

What is something you wish you knew before going abroad?

It’s very expensive!Pack for every single kind of weather if you’re going to Ireland, not just for the cold and rain.

What advice would you offer future SMAD students going abroad?

Check out the Ireland program. It offers the most experiential learning opportunities which help you more in the long run than sitting in a classroom. Be ready to make connections, be professional, but also enjoy the culture and make tons of memories.

katie_web.jpg
Taylor Jordan

What made your time in Ireland an invaluable experience?

Ireland will always be memorable to me for many reasons. However, I took my first plane ride to Ireland, so it was a huge step for my normal traveling experience. This experience has brought me a new sense of independence and memories that I will cherish forever. The colorful skylines I saw with my own eyes are not done justice in photos, nor is the feeling of being at the Cliffs of Moher or seeing the different shades of green. The various places we visited around the country helped me to get a better feel for the culture. The firsthand experience of being in Ireland is something I will never forget.


How did immersing yourself in another culture, like the one in Ireland, change your outlook on life?

While I did not expect my personal views change as a result of my trip, but the conflict in Northern Ireland has truly changed my outlook on the United Kingdom and how. Derry, or Londonderry, is scarred from mass conflict, such as the Bloody Sunday massacre. I was able to meet many people who were personally affected by such events and hear their side of the story, which the media hardly shows. Seeing how this culture is still affected by such events gave me a new outlook on recent issues and form new political opinions.


While abroad, what are some things you were able to do besides travel and course work?

I discovered another level of independence within myself during my time in Ireland. My appreciation for alone time has greatly increased, as I found myself wandering the streets of Galway just to ponder my thoughts and explore my surroundings. I also went outside of my comfort zone and tried new hobbies, such as kayaking and karaoke. I tried many new foods that I would not normally try back home in the states. Being abroad has given me more of a sense of an urgency to try new things, as I often had the “When in Ireland” mindset.

What is something you will always remember from being abroad?

Across Ireland, there is a saying cead mílle fáilte, which means “a thousand welcomes.” In Ireland, that could not be more true. I will always remember Ireland as a vibrant, bright country in both landscapes and its culture. Every local I encountered in each city we visited was very friendly and made me feel welcome. I have also gained friendships throughout the study abroad process, which I did not expect to happen when I first arrived in Ireland. I plan on keeping in touch with everyone that I got to know along the way I have made during my time in Ireland, as many of the people here have become close friends of mine.

What is something you wish you knew before going abroad?

I wish I knew how much I was going to purchase abroad and have to take home, so I would not pack as much. Also, I was very nervous about being so far away from my family at the time. I wish I knew the impact and experiences that were waiting for me across the ocean. Now I have a lot of awesome stories to tell my friends and family back home!


What advice would you offer future SMAD students going abroad?

For any SMAD students considering going abroad for any program, I say go for it! Do not be afraid to expand your horizons; the sky is the limit (take it from a girl who had never been on an airplane before!) When I was first considering study abroad, I was skeptical, but I now know there is truth behind people saying that their experience was life changing. This experience has definitely changed who I am for the better and left me with lifelong memories.

Taylor_web.jpg
Kennedy Heidel

Junior
Integrated Advertising and Corporate Communication/Advertising
Ireland – Summer, 2016

Although you studied in Ireland, were you able to travel while abroad?
Yes! When my program was over, my mom met me and we traveled to Wexford and Belfast.

What was something you did abroad that made it a valuable experience?
While abroad, I was able to make graphics for an Irish children’s book based on what I saw and experienced while I was traveling. This was a great hands-on learning experience.

Why would you recommend going abroad to a friend or a peer?
It’s amazing experiencing a different culture, especially one like Ireland where everyone is so friendly! It’s great to place yourself outside of your comfort zone, but also have a large group that you can rely on.

“The group of friends that I made in Ireland really made my study abroad experience for me.”

Speaking of placing yourself outside of your comfort zone, how has your abroad experience changed your outlook?
It made me realize that there is so much more to my major than I have ever realized in my classes.

Is there anything you wish you knew before going abroad?
How much money I would spend!

Besides saving money, what piece of advice would you give to future SMAD students going abroad?
Experience everything! Don't be afraid to go off the beaten path. I went to the train station one day and just handed over 10 euro and got a ticket to a little beach town. It was amazing and I met so many locals!

Kennedy paid 10 euros at the bus station to visit the beach in a tiny town outside of Cork, Ireland.
Kennedy paid 10 euros at the bus station to visit the beach in a tiny town outside of Cork, Ireland.
Kennedy kissing the Blarney Stone in Cork, Ireland
Kennedy kissing the Blarney Stone in Cork, Ireland.

Back to Top