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Katherine Porter in Ireland

Katherine at the Belfast Peace Wall.

Katherine at the Belfast Peace Wall.

Ireland was not initially what I had envisioned for myself when I was applying for study abroad during my sophomore year, however it ended up being exactly where I needed to be. For the last four months I lived in Cork, Ireland’s second biggest city, studying at University College Cork. I took fantastic classes, forged lasting friendships, and learned important lessons, all while living on the beautiful Emerald Isle.

University College Cork, or UCC, is an Irish university much bigger than Santa Clara. The schooling system is very different there, so I had larger lectures with students only studying that one subject for three or four years. I also only had one or two assignments that made up my entire grade for each class. Despite this adjustment, I really enjoyed the six classes I took. I am double majoring in History and Psychology, so I took two classes in each of those subjects, as well as one counting for RTC 2 and Irish Folklore for fun. My history courses were on Irish History and Anti-Semitism in Europe, which were both completely fascinating. I have not taken any courses related to these topics before, but I really enjoyed them. I especially loved being able to go to museums or actually visit places in Ireland that related to the history I had learned. Ireland, and Europe in general, was the perfect place to be for anyone interested in different areas of history like myself. There is no shortage of tours or museums to enjoy. Because of this, I learned a lot outside of the classroom as well.

Katherine at the cliffs of Moher in Ireland.

Katherine at the cliffs of Moher in Ireland.

Living so far from home with an eight hour time difference was also a huge adjustment. So naturally, I had to figure a lot more things out on my own. This, along with travelling alone much more, helped me grow in my independence. I have also always been a bit of a perfectionist and very prompt, which isn’t usually how things are done in Ireland. People there are much more relaxed, don’t follow strict schedules, and typically figure things out as they go along. This was a huge change for me, but I learned to slow things down and not be quite so serious all the time. This is a lesson I did not expect to learn but am glad I did. Another thing Irish are known for is being nice, genuine people, and I found that to be very true. Whether you were shopping at a grocery store, enjoying live music in a pub, or just standing on the street, someone might just come up and start chatting with you. These interactions were one of my favorite parts of studying abroad in Cork. They helped me open up to people and create connections, even with strangers. This part of Irish life also helped me adjust to living in a foreign country, and made my experience that much more amazing. Overall, my time studying abroad in Cork was, as cliché as it sounds, an eye-opening, immersive experience that I will cherish forever. It was a time of discovery and adventure, frustrations and adjustments, and I wouldn’t change any second of it.

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