Study Abroad- Ireland
- My STEP Signature Project involved a two-week study abroad trip to Ireland from December 27th, 2015 to January 10th, 2016. While there, I studied the behavior of human and animal interactions traveling to many different cities all across the country.
- My views of the world and myself have completely changed after this two-week experience. Not only did I learn a lot about a subject that I had no idea existed, but I enjoyed it. My background is business and this whole entire trip had to do with human-animal interactions ranging from the food industry to the preservation of ecosystems. Before I visited Ireland, I had the typical American mindset that everything revolved around us and we could survive on our own. After Ireland, I realized how many different parts went into our food industry that was affected by not only Ireland, but other places as well. We depend on so many other nations for our widely vast food supply. All nations are reliant on one another instead of everyone pretty much being self reliant, which was my mindset going in. A lot of the information that I came to learn was completely new to me and I think I came out a more humble, knowledgeable person in a subject I did not know anything about.
Not only did I learn a lot of factual information, but I learned how truly big the world is. I have never really been outside of my little hometown so I just always assumed the world was built the way I grew up seeing it. I never imagined that a place as beautiful as Ireland ever existed. The United States has amazing places, but I don’t think much could compare to the Cliffs of Moher or the Giant’s Causeway. These two places gave me a different outlook on how certain areas of the world look certain ways. The entire lifestyle of the Irish is a lot different than that of the U.S. I thought everyone lived the way we do: a fast pace lifestyle that revolves around money and themselves. In Ireland, people move much slower and seem to really enjoy life more. It made me think twice about the value of life instead of the value of money.
- While abroad we traveled to several cities that went all over the country, including Northern Ireland. While traveling we made many stops that had huge impacts on my view of the world. As discussed before, the topic of the trip was human-animal interaction and this involved us visiting different kinds of farms. The group went to a beef farm, dairy farm, sheep farm, etc. While I attended these places, the actual owners went into detail of how each process worked. Every single food industry stop we made, I learned something new. At the dairy farm, I got to talk directly to the owners of the farm and I think this interaction had the biggest impact on me.
The two owners had been friends and in the dairy industry for quite sometime. Again, I had no knowledge of anything that happened in this sort of field. One owner had gone into major detail about the drugs used and the processes of how they ran their operation. He described how the drugs they used came from another country and that the parts used in the milking parlor came from somewhere else. I learned how intertwined all nations really are when it comes to the food industry. This farmer was telling me that without certain countries providing products, his entire industry would never be able to work. The reliance of one country to another is a lot bigger than I ever imagined. This simple dairy farmer made me realize that the world is a much bigger place than just America and without even one small country, nothing will happen. Everyone truly relies on everyone and just a quick conversation helped open up my eyes. That is one relationship that I will never forget.
Ireland is just a six-hour flight away from the USA, yet it is like a different planet. I have never appreciated the beauty of a place until I am already gone. While in Ireland I made sure to appreciate every site I saw because of a couple of sweet old ladies I met on the second day there, which made me appreciate the people just as much.
I was out to lunch at a pub with two girls that I had met on the trip, and these two retired women came up to us, guessing we were foreigners. They had no idea who we were, yet acted like they had known us for years. I am not accustomed to being approached this way in America so I was a little taken a back. Both asked us questions about our trip and where we were headed over the two weeks. The first thing they told us was to actually look at the sites and stay off our phones. We eventually traveled to the Cliffs of Moher and the Giant’s Causeway, and while almost everyone else had their phones out taking pictures or texting, I just looked at the sites because of what those women said. I think this made all the difference in the world. The world is a really beautiful place when you stop and actually look. Never being outside of my hometown, I didn’t really think the world was all that different anywhere I would go. The people in Ireland are extremely nice and the world is a much bigger place when you take a closer look.
- This transformation is priceless. The trip to Ireland is something I could never put a value on. I will take it with me for the rest of my life and tell my kids and their kids about how traveling abroad was the best choice I have ever made in my 21 years of existence. Traveling is something everyone should experience because it really does expand your mind on things you would never think, and that was the case for me.
Not only did I expand my scholastic background, but also expanded my cultural background. Being able to say that I learned about an entirely different group of people will not only help me in my professional goals, but also helps me grow as a person. This trip was important because I did things I otherwise would never have a chance to do, and it will be something that I appreciate more and more as I grow older.