On June 8th 2019, 18 young Huskies departed the United States for a study abroad experience of a lifetime.
Upon arriving at UCD, the search for a shower and a nap became imminent. Preparation for the first day of class began as we worked to determine what time it was. To go along with a 5-hour time-change, what threw us off the most was the stubbornness of the sun to set. This isn’t saying that we were met with overwhelming sun-exposure, in fact I (Evan) rarely took my rain jacket off, however the sun refused to set until at least 10:30 pm. For our first few nights, 11pm still felt like 4am and if it wasn’t for amazing light-reflective shades in our dorms, our reliance on coffee to drag us out of bed and send us off to class would have been more troublesome.
Aside from jetlag, our first few days of class were met with new topics and new faces. Bright and early on a Monday morning (or what felt like mid afternoon), our Husky pack was introduced to other nursing students from schools across the United States. We were lucky enough to share a classroom with representatives of Georgetown University, University of Hawaii, and other accredited nursing schools. Interacting with these students, whether it was in class, participating in Gaelic games, or jumping into a bog was a surprisingly nice experience. Most of these students were entering their senior year, so it was interesting hearing about their respective clinical exposure and how they have survived nursing school so far. Being able to further “understand what nursing truly means to us through a different perspective” – (Krysta O’Shea) in Ireland was a highlight for everyone. Not only did we learn in the classroom, but on our excursions off campus we “learned how to milk cows and play both hurling and Gaelic football – traditional Irish sports” – Sophia DeNucci.
Similarly, Kaitlyn Drysdale’s “favorite part was learning about nursing from another part of the world while getting closer and creating lifelong memories with my fellow Huskies”.
I don’t think any of us ever expected to develop the bond that we did over our 3 weeks in Ireland. We spent nearly the entire trip as a group, exploring all that Ireland had to offer while immersing ourselves in the culture.
Upon travelling throughout the island (both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland), we took in the beautiful greenery, cliff-filled coastlines, and the sheep. Yes, the sheep. They are everywhere in Ireland.
One of our favorite spots was up at the most northern end of Ireland at the Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge. Although terrified of the 100 foot drop, Kelsey Byrne claims the trek across the bridge to be her favorite part of the trip. While still in Northern Ireland we made our way up to the famous Giant’s Causeway and yet again took in the breathtaking scenery before heading down to explore the historical city of Belfast.
On to the west coast of Ireland, the legendary Cliffs of Moher did not disappoint. The views from 700+ feet above sea were remarkable. It was important not to get too close to the edge even if it meant for a quality photo (though Evan had the genius idea of climbing down a bit to explore). The experience of exploring the western coast of Ireland was my (Evan) personal favorite adventure. Renting bikes and riding around the Aran Islands while coming upon a shipwreck and miles of coastline was an experience second to none.
We are incredibly grateful for the opportunity that both the University of Connecticut and University College Dublin provided for us. Our perspective and understanding of the nursing field expanded exponentially. It was through experiences with fellow students abroad that helped make this trip so special. Being able to leave a long day of class to go explore in the city of Dublin is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and we couldn’t be more fortunate the experience. Not only did we take a lot away from the classroom, but our quality time together as a group felt way too short.
Of any research conducted abroad, we discovered and concluded that Huskies travel in a pack, and that pack became a family.