Office of International Programs

Hilary Dion

Hilary Dion
University College Galway, Ireland
Spring 2013

Simple Mainer to Galway Gal

Receiving this Kaufman scholarship completely changed my consideration of going abroad. Money for me was the biggest issue when embarking on this outrageously nerve-racking excursion. I was blessed to have this financial assistance to be able to experience such a life changing opportunity. I had never been on a plane let alone made any trips to Europe. Ireland was an easy choice for me because my boss of almost 7 years advised me to go, he said going would change my life, and it did. I decided to make this trip 100% for me. Therefore I took out a private loan, went on my own (without a group), and made it a point to make all the arrangements. Tasks such as finding a place to live, coming up with a budget, dealing with all the bills and responsibilities at home, and trying to still graduate early weighed heavy as my plane ride to another world came closer. I had the opportunity of building a new life for myself. I met my roommates when I got there and still remain close to them. I was able to travel to 10 countries while I was there, often “couch surfing” on natives stranger’s couches to save money and also absorb the culture as much as possible. I took five courses at the National University of Galway and focused on my studies because the classes and schooling there was quite different than here. I also joined the swim team in order to meet as many Irish students as possible. The beginning of my trip was probably the hardest. I was more homesick than I ever imagined and also forced to emerge myself into the culture quickly because I knew my time there would really fly by. I am fortunate to have received the positive experiences and memories while having been abroad and would advise anyone to grasp the opportunity if given the chance. I consider my self a stronger person for having taken that leap into the unknown world of Ireland. I also feel that see the world with a new set of eyes and am in fact planning a trip to go back soon. I thank the Kaufman family for the opportunity of a scholarship and aiding in my transformation from a simple Mainer to a cultural Galway Gal.