I was the only student from Providence College that attended University College Cork in Fall 2021, and I remember feeling intimidated yet excited. There were so many places to see, people to meet, and memories to make that I knew it would be exciting starting fresh. With only one other student in my IFSA program, my advisor made sure to make us feel like we were at home in Cork. Orientation was a time where I started out nervous, but I adjusted throughout the first few days, and began to accept that this was my home for four months. With downtime, one might feel a little lonely and missing home, and IFSA ensured we did not feel this way. Although orientation was on zoom, we talked through expectations of the Irish curriculum and lifestyle, the culture of Ireland and the Irish students, Ireland trivia, and the do’s and don’ts of studying abroad. Covering all this information throughout a span of a week really helped me envision my time in Cork. I was prepared to know when and how Irish students study, what they do in their downtime, and even learned about all the clubs and societies UCC has to offer. I was also prepared to alter and adjust my learning style to fit into my new courses and learned about all the coffee shops I can study at. Overall, orientation was a very enlightening time, and was essential to prepare me for my whole abroad experience. Without the initial guidance from my IFSA advisor Rachel, I would not have been able to navigate my first few weeks in a brand-new county by myself.
Victoria Hanlon is a Health Policy and Management student at Providence College and studied abroad with IFSA at University College Cork in Fall 2021