This is the second in our series of posts about our lovely Spring 2017 Student Representatives! If you’d like to hear more about what our program entails and read about Carolyn Ho’s experiences in Glasgow please follow this link!
Candace Wooster has been a student at the University College Dublin for the entire 2016/17 academic year. She is a history major in her third year at the University of California Santa Cruz and was happy to share some reflections on her experiences in Ireland over the last 9 months!
What have you found to be the most rewarding aspect of your time studying abroad in Dublin?
“The most rewarding aspect of study abroad life is the personal growth. I have had to do a lot of things alone this year, mostly by choice but some simply because I’m two continents and an ocean away from my family! I have learned more about myself this year than I have any other year of my schooling and I am so excited to see how this experience affects me for the rest of my life.”
“One of the best parts about my study abroad experience happened in November when two of my favourite Youtube creators, Grace Helbig and Mamrie Hart, came to do a show in Dublin. I got to meet them and see them put on their comedy show with some of my first semester friends. Meeting them, I introduced myself and they both immediately said “You’re not from Ireland are you?!” and I got to explain that I was on UCEAP from California. It was really fun to get to make that connection from something I love doing in America to my time in Ireland.”
What has been the most challenging part about study abroad?
“The most challenging part of studying abroad for me has actually been watching my family leave after visits. I am fine with making friends, or going travelling alone, navigating foreign countries, and even waiting for my family to visit me. I have just found the week or two after visits to be the hardest, most homesick weeks of my time here. I haven’t felt homesick very much at all this year other than the normal adjusting at the beginning of the year and directly after my three visits from different family members. I was able to get past the homesickness by hanging out with and talking to my other study abroad friends, both on UCEAP and here through different programs, and figure out ways to really appreciate the time I have/had left in Ireland.”
If you could go backwards, would you still pick UCD as your host institution?
“I would absolutely still pick UCD to study at if I had to do it again. I fell in love with everything in Dublin; the culture, the people, the food, the scenery. My other top choice for studying was Edinburgh and while I loved my visit there in November, I could just tell the Ireland was a better fit for me. I would have been happy anywhere I had studied abroad, and I would have enjoyed any time I had, but I have felt at home in Dublin and at UCD and I’m not sure I would have thrived in other cities.”
What advice would you give to future students venturing on your program?
“Don’t be afraid to be the silly one, the weird one, the loud one, the anything one. Every single study abroad student is coming to this place the same way you are. Sure, a few people might come abroad with a friend or two but everyone is willing to make new friends, you just have to start the conversation. Also, when you stay in hostels during your travels – talk to someone new! Make a friend in every country you go to. Add them on Facebook and take photos. You’ll love that when you go home.”