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Innovation in Ireland
Kendra Stone is our Featured Study Abroad student, and she told us all about her journey of a lifetime in Ireland this past summer!
Tell us your name and a little bit about you!
I'm Kendra (second from the right in the photo) and I am a rising senior studying Marketing Graphic Design through LSBE. I am a fun, outgoing person who is always looking to try new things. I'm fluent in French and have a love for photography!
When and where did you study abroad?
I studied abroad on the UMD Short-term Innovation in Ireland program in May 2017.
What was your most memorable experience abroad?
My most memorable experience abroad was climbing Diamond Hill. In Ireland, a 'hill' is actually a mountain. It didn't look that bad as we started the climb, and then we got halfway up. At that point I was convinced one of us (most likely me) was going to slip and fall off this mountain. Alas, we all made it to the top and the view was breathtaking and totally worth it!
What was the funniest thing that happened to you abroad?
We were chased by sheep down a hill. It doesn't sound that funny, but Ireland has tons and tons of sheep roaming, so there’s ample opportunity for sheep jokes and puns and whatnot. Well, we were on our descent from Diamond Hill to the main park area and there were these sheep about two feet off the path. Naturally, we all started making sheep jokes, and I don't know if they understood us, but all of a sudden we were sprinting down this hill and the sheep were running after us! It’s safe to say that not only was it the funniest but second scariest thing that happened.
What did you do for fun in your free time?
A lot of days our group was scheduled with different visits from morning until late in the afternoon. A lot of times people were really tired, but my friend Rachel and I would always go explore whatever town we were in so we really had a lay of the land. Not only was it cool to see different towns, but we looked more like locals and less like tourists.
Did you travel to other cities or countries while abroad? If yes, where else did you go?
Did you create a budget? If so, were you able to stay within your budget?
I tried, but that didn't work super well.
Do you have tips or advice regarding budgeting and spending?
Plan on spending more than you think you'll spend. You don't want to miss out on an opportunity because you're thinking about money all the time. That being said, plan on the experience being super expensive (which depending on where you go it could be) and you'll be fine.
What was traveling like? (Both within the city and outside of it)
I've traveled a lot with my family and with different groups during middle and high school, but traveling with people in college is completely different. Everyone is already kind of on their own but at the same time everyone's a little freaked out and doesn't really know what to expect. You definitely earn trust and gain trust much easier than usual. It's a great experience and it also gives you some of the best friendships!
What did you pack but ended up not needing?
I packed the lightest out of everyone, including my professor. I also just gave stuff away while I was abroad and bought new things if I needed them. Pro tip: if you're going for under one to one and a half months, you don't need a fifty-pound suitcase. Everyone just stares at you because they know you're American.
What did you need but didn’t pack?
A watch, sweatpants, and a tote bag so I didn't have to carry my backpack all the time.
What was the food like? Did you find food that you enjoyed?
It was good! Ireland is not really known for their cuisine but it was good. Chips are not like french fries at all and they don't have Ketchup, so plan wisely.
What foods did you miss from home?
Diet Coke. Theirs is different because it doesn't have the same preservatives in it. And peanut butter - I don't even eat it that much but Irish peanut butter is 'not weird, just different.’
How did the locals dress?
Pretty much the same, except everyone is always prepared for walking and for whatever weather could occur.
How did you get the foreign currency?
I got it in Ireland and the exchange rate wasn't great. It would have been better to either bring some of the currency with me beforehand and have the rest on a debit card like the Capitol 260 card that doesn't have international transaction fees or ATM fees. It’s different because when you put your card in an ATM, the local currency comes out, not USD.
What did you miss from home that you never thought or realized you’d miss?
Preservatives. The food in Europe has a lot higher standards and even though they have the same fast food chains, like Subway, it still tastes different. I also missed Lake Superior's water; there is no other water in the world that I've tasted thus far that is as good as Lake Superior’s.
What was one thing you thought might be a big deal while being away, that wasn’t so much of a big deal when you were actually living there?
Not having access to social media all the time. It turns out it was refreshing and we actually got to know everyone on the trip a lot better because we couldn't just sit there on our phones.
What advice would you give other students on how to adjust to living or being in a new culture?
Wherever you're going, it's not America. So you need to realize it’s going to be different and you're going to feel out of place. But don't try to make it like America because it won't work and you'll end up missing out on great experiences.
What were some of your favorite things about your host city/country?
My favorite things about Ireland were the beautiful landscape and the genuine kindness of the Irish people!
Would you recommend studying abroad to another student? If so, why?
YES. It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity to be in another country with your peers who are all interested in the same thing. Do it. You won't regret it!
May students contact you by email if they want to learn more about your experience?
Yes, my email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.