Demi Foley, Ireland

Demi Foley studied at the National University of Ireland in Galway, Ireland, during the Spring 2013 semester.

Photo: Demi Foley at the Cliffs of Moher in Ireland

Why did you choose to study abroad?

Since the age of thirteen I had always been intrigued at the thought of being able to travel to another country and experience a new culture during my college career. I had watched my two older sisters have the most amazing abroad experience and decided that I wanted to experience the world in the same way.

Why did you choose this location for your study abroad experience?

I am fifty percent Irish and have always felt a connection to Irish culture. I looked into studying in nuerous countries but, after researching Ireland, everything clicked. I wanted to study in Europe because I wanted to be able to easily travel to different countries. Ireland has such a beautiful landscape and authentic culture filled with warm-hearted and up-lifting spirits. Galway is in the heart of the country and is completely engulfed with Irish culture, from cobbled stoned streets and old authentic pubs to Irish farms and beautiful castles all around.

What was the most challenging part of being in another country?

As soon as you step off the plane you are completely out of your element. For at least some portion of the time you are cut off from communication with America and you are not culturally acclimated. The most difficult part of all is being away from your family and not having them initially when trying to find your way in a different part of the world.

What memorable experiences did you have while studying abroad?

One of the most memorable times of my abroad experience was when my family came to visit me in Ireland. Studying abroad changed my life; having my family present to experience the beauty of Ireland with me was something so indescribable and amazing.

How did your experience of studying abroad affect your life then and after?

We constantly discuss in school and in daily life how we view the world however we never really touch upon how the world views America. I experienced firsthand what it’s like to view the world from a different perspective. I gained a new appreciation for my family, friends, country and life. Now, after spending four and a half months away I have a much more refreshing and open-minded outlook on life. There’s a big world out there, I now want to experience it.

What do you think is the most important thing for students who choose to study abroad to prepare before they leave?

A communication plan! Figure out prior to leaving how you are going to communicate with your friends and family, whether it be free messaging apps, social media or a special phone plan so that you are always connected. Once you arrive in a new place the easiest way to acclimate is to have a support system. Make sure you can contact home!

What other comments would you like to make about your experience abroad?

Studying abroad changed my life. Through the good, the bad and the amazing it has by far been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made and the most incredible thing I was able to experience. I encourage anybody who may even be considering going abroad, to go! UMass does a phenomenal job at helping anyone who desires to go abroad to be able to go. No matter what you think the obstacles may be, make it happen because it will change your life.

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