BEVERLY, Mass. — Three members of the Endicott field hockey program recently studied abroad in both England and Ireland. Here's a look into the study abroad trips for three of Endicott's four rising juniors from last year's roster which includes Emily Graham (Westford, Mass.), Katie Peter (Avon-by-the-sea, N.J.), and Meg Sandblom (Scituate, Mass.).
ECGulls: Give us an overall description of your trip.
EG: I spent my semester studying abroad in Dublin, Ireland at the University of College Dublin. Known as UCD, the University of College Dublin is Ireland's biggest University, with over 30,000 students. It is located in Belfield, a town right outside of Dublin. I was in Ireland for nearly five months and also got the chance to travel all around Europe. Other countries I went to included England, Scotland, Amsterdam, Spain, Italy, and Croatia.
KP: I studied abroad for the spring semester at The University of Birmingham in Birmingham, England.
MS: I studied abroad at the University of Birmingham in Birmingham, England for five months in the spring semester. Birmingham is an industrial city located north of London. I spent my first few weeks exploring the city and seeing what my home for five months had to offer. I was also able to travel throughout the United Kingdom, including Scotland, as well as throughout Europe. I visited nine countries during my time abroad. I went to the Netherlands, Switzerland, France, Spain, Ireland, Sweden, Denmark, Iceland, and Italy.
ECGulls: Describe your overall study abroad experience.
EG: My experience was incredible. I had the best time of my life abroad. I was able to meet so many new people, travel to new places and immerse myself in a different culture. Before I left, I had a bit of uncertainty about going to a new country and not knowing anyone, but in the end, I would not have changed a thing. Ireland was definitely the right place for me. The country itself is absolutely beautiful and has so much history that is relevant to my life because I have Irish relatives. Additionally, the people of Ireland are some of the kindest and friendliest I have ever met. And, going abroad without really knowing any of the other students beforehand forced me to branch out and meet a lot more people than I would've if I had gone with friends.
KP: My experience was amazing because it expanded my worldview as well as my perspective on my own life. One of the best things it did was it took me farther outside of my comfort zone than I have ever been before.
MS: My experience was amazing. During the five months that I was abroad, I was able to gain skills that are so important to have. For example, I learned how to plan and stay organized when we were booking all of our trips as well as road maps to be able to get around the new cities that we visited. I also gained a great amount of independence while being abroad. This was the longest time I had been away from home and I had to learn how to live on my own and rely on only myself for basic everyday tasks. I had to be flexible and be willing to adjust to the new lifestyle as it is very different than in the United States. Even the simple things such as the grocery stores and restaurants were very different. It helped me being in a country that spoke English, however even this was an adjustment for me because sometimes it was difficult to understand their accents.
ECGulls: Why would you recommend studying abroad to other students?
EG: I would definitely recommend studying abroad to other students. Deciding to go abroad for an entire semester is a huge decision to make, but is something I had thought about doing throughout freshman year. When it came time to actually apply and commit to studying abroad, I found myself second-guessing the decision a little bit. Everyone who I had talked to spoke so highly of their study abroad experiences, and those who did not study abroad in college said it was one of their biggest regrets. Although I was a bit nervous to go, I knew it was an experience I could not miss out on. Studying abroad was the best decision I have made during my college experience and I would recommend it to all students.
KP: I would recommend studying abroad to other students because living in another country and traveling on your own teaches you so many life lessons and requires lots of problem-solving skills that you might not be able to acquire in any other way.
MS: I would definitely recommend study abroad to other students. For me, studying abroad was always something I thought about but never something I actually thought I would do. My overall positive experience of living in a different country and traveling the world would be the reason why I recommend studying abroad. It helps people grow and discover more about the world as well as about themselves.
ECGulls: What was the biggest lesson you learned?
EG: The biggest lesson I learned was how to be independent and self-sufficient. So many aspects of my life in Ireland were vastly different from at home or at Endicott. There was no meal plan or Callahan Center, so we had to grocery shop and cook all for ourselves. I did not have a car to drive so we had to rely on public transportation. For the first time in my life, we were planning trips, booking flights and accommodations, and traveling to new countries, all on our own. We learned how to be safe and aware as tourists in various countries, and how to respect other cultures.
KP: The biggest lesson that I learned while abroad was to appreciate all the little everyday things, because yes it is amazing to be able to go on cool trips and see awesome things, but actually getting to live and go to school and have a new day-to-day routine in a foreign country is an opportunity not a lot of people get to have. Learning to embrace things like walking to the grocery store and meeting people who grew up on another side of the world from me was super important to recognize as a privilege.
MS: The biggest lesson I learned while being abroad was to have confidence in myself. I was nervous and scared about being homesick before I left for Birmingham. I also had little confidence in the idea that I would adjust and succeed for a semester in a foreign country. However, after I realized that I had met amazing people and adjusted well I gained confidence in myself. I knew that I was capable of having a great semester and could grow and learn.
ECGulls: What was your favorite experience?
EG: Choosing one favorite experience from this semester is nearly impossible. But to narrow it down, my two favorite parts about studying abroad were meeting people and traveling. I went to Dublin not knowing anyone. There were a few other Endicott students going, but they were all a grade above me. Study abroad is kind of like freshman year of college. When you arrive, most of the other study abroad students are in the exact same boat as you, they came alone and are hoping to make friends. I was lucky enough to meet a great group of people through API, (Academic Programs International), the program Endicott uses to connect our students with my school in Dublin. I made many lasting friendships in Dublin with people all over the United States, and Ireland. The amazing friends that I made abroad are what made my semester so enjoyable and made it so hard to leave. Additionally, getting the chance to travel all over Ireland and Europe was also definitely a highlight of my semester abroad. From getting to travel to Birmingham, England to visit my teammates Meg Sandblom and Katie Peter, to see countries like Spain, Italy and Croatia with my friends from Dublin, spending time in different places in Europe definitely got me hooked on traveling.
KP: One of my favorite experiences while being abroad was on my trip to Paris I had a picnic in front of the Eiffel tower at sunset, it was one of the most dreamlike experiences I've ever had.
MS: It is hard to pick one favorite experience to take away from studying abroad. My favorite part about studying in Birmingham was meeting new people from Endicott, England, and all throughout Europe. All the Endicott students lived in dorms with other first-year students studying at the university so it was interesting to learn about them and their experiences. I would say that meeting these people and traveling with my friends would be my favorite experiences. Most of my travels were with my new friends and it just made the whole experience more fun and exciting.
ECGulls: Describe the educational side of the program.
EG: The education at University College Dublin was very different from what I was used to at Endicott. For starters, about 30,000 students attend UCD. So the typical Endicott scenario with small classes where professors know your name did not really exist. I had to adjust to big lecture halls and classes with a few hundred students. Another major difference is in assessment. In the United States, continuous assessment is very common. Your final grade is usually made up of a few exams, homework grades, maybe a project or paper, and attendance. In Ireland, that is not the case. There were no weekly homework assignments or quizzes. In every single one of my classes, my grade was made up of two things; A midterm assessment, usually a paper, and a final exam. For my accounting class, the midterm exam was worth 20% and the final exam made up the remaining 80% of my course grade. This made the exams particularly stressful, since I had never taken a test worth that much of my final grade. Additionally, to add to the novelty of the final exam system at UCD, we had to take a bus to a massive exam hall where 3,000 students take an exam all at once. Coming from a small school like Endicott, this was absolutely unheard of and pretty stressful. The educational system at University College Dublin was without a doubt something that took some adjusting, but study abroad is about experiencing and adapting to new things.
KP: At the University of Birmingham we were treated exactly like all of the regular students at the school. Which was challenging most of the time because it was very different from Endicott, all of my classes met once a week for a 2 hour lecture and our final grades were determined by either 1 or 2 major papers or exams. My smallest class was still in a lecture hall and had about 50 students in but my largest class had over 400 students. The business classes I took were pretty interesting because there were lots of discussions about the drastic decision of Brexit and its impacts on the UK economy and businesses.
MS: The academic abroad are much different than they are in the United States. The academics were by far the most difficult part of my trip to Birmingham. We only met with each class one or two times a week and most of my classes were large lectures made up of 300 plus students. Clearly, this is much different than Endicott as we meet multiple times a week and in small class sizes. The first few weeks of classes were intimidating and made me nervous, however, once I settled in I realized it was not as scary as I thought. The professors were all helpful and open to questions, which helped me get through the semester. Another difficult part of the academics was the grading system. Most of our final grades were made up of only an exam or an essay, which would be the only assignment we had all semester. There was a lot of pressure to do well on these assignments because it was the entire grade. However, I learned to prioritize my time as well as organize myself with my school work, which led me to succeed in the educational side of being abroad.
WHY STUDY ABROAD? – (ENDICOTT STUDY ABROAD WEBSITE)
Following the College's philosophy to "learn by doing" through experiential learning, the study abroad program & its international internships prepare students at Endicott for success by offering alternative academic understanding, social & cultural literacy and life-changing experiences. Through semester-long academic study, faculty-led trips, and/or 3-to-15 week internships abroad, students gain new confidence and self-awareness, and obtain the skills necessary for success in today's economy.
"Globalization is here to stay, and students who want to work in our interconnected global world should study or intern abroad.
Despite the inevitable increasing global competition for jobs, American graduates lack the international experience, language capabilities and cross-cultural communication skills necessary to succeed in the global economy.
Making education abroad a part of their college education is the most effective and accessible means for students to develop needed skills because it pushes a student to get out of her comfort zone to experience another culture, language, environment and education system. It teaches students to appreciate difference and diversity firsthand and enables them to recognize — and then dismiss — stereotypes they may have held about people they had never met.
Learning how to interact with people from other countries and cultures equips future leaders in all sectors to address urgent issues — from curing diseases and finding energy solutions, to fighting terrorism and hunger — shared across borders."
The Endicott Experience feature aims to highlight the entirety of the student-athletes' experiential learning journey throughout their academic careers. The student-athlete at Endicott is afforded the same opportunities as the general student population at the College as it relates to internships, study abroad, and postgraduate career pursuits. This philosophy mirrors the mission statement of the College which every student is encouraged to take intellectual risks, pursue scholarly and creative interests, contribute to the community, and explore diverse career paths. Read more Endicott Experience features by navigating the links below.
STUDY ABROAD: Studying Abroad as a Student-Athlete at Endicott | James Dwyer Focuses on Opportunities Abroad in Switzerland with Les Roches Global Hospitality | Endicott Student-Athletes Study Abroad in Asia | Holly Erbe Studies Abroad in London, Paris, Amsterdam | Andrea Courtemanche Gains New Perspectives Through Study Abroad Trip | Shelby Elwell Catches Travel Bug From Study Abroad Experiences | Erica Hadad Studies Abroad In Ireland
(Photo Credit - Emily Graham)