IAS Guest Blogger #1: Preparing for Study Abroad

Becca Hankla is the first in a series of guest bloggers for IAS.
Read more about becca here.Becca Hankla Bio pic

All summer I’ve been hearing this from friends and family: “So when do you go back to school?”

And I’ve been so excited to say, “Well, actually, I leave for Ireland on September 14!”

Which is often accompanied by a look of puzzled excitement, and once I get past that, they begin to tell me what I have to do. From these wonderful people I have compiled a checklist approximately a mile long. For exemplary purposes, I provide page one, items 10-17.

  • Save money for travel.
  • Visit my school friends.
  • Get rain boots.
  • Get a good raincoat.
  • Spend time with my parents.
  • Hang out with my sister.
  • Catch up on my American Netflix before it goes away.

Some of these are simple things that I need to do, like buy a raincoat. I am not a fan of being soaked and cold. Some other things are not so simple, like hanging out with my sister when she’s busy, I’m working two jobs, and she starts school in three weeks. And of course, there’s the American comforts like a mini-marathon of “Melissa & Joey” on Netflix. (Seriously, check it out. It’s fantastic.)

I’ve also crossed some things off my list.

Get a passport. (That was a hairy encounter and if you ever want to die from laughter, I’d love to share).

Register for classes.

Figure out which suitcase to use.

Tell Queens University of Charlotte that I’m not going to be there this fall. (You cannot imagine how many different offices are worried that I haven’t registered for classes and have sent panicked e-mails to me.)

And the list continues. But it will all get done in the mere 50+ days I have left.

So why Ireland?

Most people don’t understand that this is my dream. On September 14, I will depart my beloved America, Land of the Free and Home of the Brave, for the Emerald Isle. My trip will be different from that of my eighth-generation ancestors May Ella and James Dougherty, who left Ireland on a ship in 1851, but no less monumental. I will finally see the places that I have been dreaming of since I was little. I will touch the history I have studied for years. I will finally see Ireland.

And I will get to travel. My best friend, who studied abroad in Florence, says that I just have to try the gelato in Rome. My history professor tells me that the Alhambra in Spain is truly an historical experience that I cannot forgo. My high school French teacher says I need to practice what she taught me and visit Nice or Paris. Plus, my love of “Downton Abbey” says a trip to Highclere Castle is a must.

Just writing that makes me want to get packed and go right now. But there is a flip side to this coin that is begging to be mentioned.

I’m scared.

I currently attend Queens University of Charlotte in North Carolina. It’s a tiny private school, boasting a mere 1,869 undergraduates on 95 of the most beautiful acres in the Myers Park neighborhood area of Charlotte. In addition, it is exactly 218.07 miles from my driveway in Atlanta, Georgia.

In September, I will be a fully enrolled student at Queens University Belfast in Northern Ireland. In contrast to my tiny private school, my new Irish University is just a tiny bit bigger, with an enrollment of 17,000 students. I guess the phrase is “little fish, big pond”? In addition, the distance between me and my driveway will no longer be a three and a half hour drive, but rather a distance of 3,888 miles, according to Google.

So it’s safe to say I’m scared. Although I am comfortable in my skin, I get homesick sometimes. I love to talk with my parents on the phone. My 13-year-old sister is one of my dearest friends. And I’m going 3,888 miles from them. I’ll be away from my university home where I have professors who know me, friends I’ve bonded with, and my campus tour job and worship leader position. Everything I know about college is about to change.

There are two sides to this adventure. I can be scared of all the change, the newness, the distance, and the culture difference. I could call and cancel my trip right now. But I think back to one thing that tells me I have to do this. I look at the picture of my 10-year-old self. I think about what she wants. She wants to go to Ireland. She wants to see the castles, eat the food, develop a slight accent, and sing the Irish music. Am I supposed to the let the fears of an almost 21-year-old destroy her dreams? Am I supposed to risk the adventure of a lifetime in order to have a semester of comfort? The answer to this question is no. The answer is heck no. The answer is “shut up insecurities!” I am going to Ireland. I’m a little scared. But that’s okay.

19 Things You’ll Only Understand If You Studied Abroad

Such a good read!!

Canadian College for Higher Studies Blog

The Huffington Post  |  By Suzy StrutnerPosted: 12/23/2013 7:11 am EST  |  Updated: 07/06/2014 10:00 pm EDT

1. Contrary to every mother’s belief, you won’t even feel sick if you eat gelato for every meal.
Or pizza. Or crepes. Or empanadas. Or anything in the top, bad-for-you section of the food pyramid. We’re on a budget here, people.

2. Humans are inherently kind.
Strangers will go far, far out of their way to help you get around. All you must do is ask sincerely and thank copiously.
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Self Sufficiency

Self Sufficiency, brilliant insights for IAS international students too!

From I to U

Kayne Mettert

Sitting in a small train station en route to Siena in Tuscany after having missed two trains, I reflected on how far I’ve come.  I remember going on family vacations as a child, completely reliant on adults for the scheduling and arrangement of our trips.  Any complications that arose were no inconvenience to me, as I had no responsibility in planning or implementing what we would do.  This, however, was not the case now as I started to panic and wonder how I would get this weekend trip (which was now three hours off schedule) back on track.

train station Behind schedule at the train station.

The commute, which I had singularly planned and organized, had gotten off track when our original train left the station late.  This threw everything off and made it very difficult to make our subsequent connections in time.  Eventually though, I found my bearings and I…

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CST 360: Why study abroad?

Some great reflections on study abroad!!

Keeping up with Karlee Brooklyn

As I sit here on my bed looking down at my planner, the square boxes counting 6 days left until “home” leave me with mixed emotions. I have truly loved every minute here in Spain, whether it be learning, traveling, getting lost, exploring, or simply sitting at a coffee shop content as can be. Those memories make it hard to leave.

On the other hand, I am looking forward to seeing my friends and family back in the states. I am a very social person, so it has been hard for me to be okay with only communicating every few days with those back home.

When it comes down to it though, I couldn’t be happier I took the plunge and decided to study abroad this summer. If I had only three points to tell students who are contemplating studying abroad here in Seville for the next trip in two…

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Day 8 – Queen’s University

Some great info on Queen’s University!

Ireland in Context

IMG_1174This morning started off with a great tour of Queen’s University, only a few short blocks from our guesthouse. We met our guide in the Queen’s Welcome Centre inside the beautiful Lanyon Building, designed by Sir Charles Lanyon and opened by Queen Victoria. It was built in 1849 in Tudor Gothic style with red brick and Giffnock sandstone dressings. We saw the Great Hall, the Canada Room, the Council Chamber and the quadrangle, and a fabulous exhibit in the Naughton GalleryOut of the Ordinary: Contemporary Visions of the Avant-Garde.

From the site –

The Naughton Gallery at Queen’s welcomes eight local contemporary artists for the first time through a collective re-thinking of works by female artists of the Spanish and Latin American avant-garde. Surrealism began as a cultural movement in Paris in the 1920s, which experimented with ways of unleashing the subconscious imagination…

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The Next Step: Belfast

Walking in truth

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I am beyond excited to share with you an opportunity that has been made available to me for my post-grad life. I have the privilege to participate in an internship program in Belfast, Northern Ireland, for a year, from August 2014 – August 2015. This internship will be at Christian Fellowship Church in downtown Belfast and will include ministry and media experience.

The main structure of the internship will be producing video and social media campaigns for the church and their various ministry outreaches. The church will also meet with the interns once a week for a weekly mentoring and discipleship day to make sure we are growing and reaching our personal goals. During the year, I will be able to not only grow in my field of study, but I will also be able to reach out to the Belfast community and form relationships with the people I am…

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What Do You Pack For a Study Abroad Program in Ireland?

Some advice for packing!

ISA Study Abroad Student Blog

Hannah Peterson is a student at the Ohio Northern University and an ISA Featured Blogger. Hannah will be studying abroad with ISA in Galway, Ireland.

Blog 1

I’m counting down the days before I embark on this crazy study abroad adventure in Galway, Ireland! With two weeks before my departure, I am trying to prepare myself by finishing last minute packing for a month away from home. To be honest: packing is hard! I don’t know what the weather will be like, what the acceptable fashion is in Galway, how to make style meet comfort and how to do all of this in one suitcase. I’ve been researching what to expect for Galway’s summer weather and what kind of clothing I should pack to make sure I don’t stick out in my dress.

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