Today’s blog post comes to us from Texas Lutheran University student & #APIabroad alumni Morgan Dill. She studied abroad with us in Galway, Ireland.
Arriving into Ireland, I was hesitant on what would be waiting for me once I got there.
Would the people be nice? Would I like my API group? My directors? Would I stand out or quickly fit in? So many questions and concerns ran through my head as the pilot began our descend, but at the same time, I knew I was ready. Since my flight arrived late, I did not get picked up at the airport like everyone else but rather I had to find my own way to Galway and then to my apartment.
After a pretty much breakdown in the airport I got myself together, got on a bus and tried to call my API directors – that’s when Finn picked me up. She directed me to where I was supposed to go once arriving to the city and then, thankfully, picked me up at my apartment to walk me into town to meet the others. Her energy was so lively and loud while we talked, she was genuinely so interested in my life and the questions she continued to ask me that I instantly felt at home with her and Ireland in general.
Over the course of the semester, she was always there for us when we needed her.
I especially took advantage of the time that we had. She was our rock of encouragement throughout the semester, any time we had questions or concerns she always knew what to say or have an answer. Since we had a meeting every Friday, it was easy to update her with what we had going on in the weeks to come as well as have her tell us new and exciting things to do while we were in the city or traveling.
The knowledge she has built over time from all her travels is truly remarkable and I hope to one day have a similar grasp of knowledge. Academically she was a great help because of how much she has worked with NUIG in the past and how respected she already is. She was especially helpful to me while I was struggling in Statistics and helped me to request a meeting with the head of the program to get some tutoring and questions answered. She read our papers for different classes, helped us study when she could and always pushed us to do our best despite how different school was there for us compared to the states.
On a personal level, Finn told us to look at her as our Irish sister, but I saw her more like a second mom with less pressure. Her advice on everyday things in life is something that I will hold with me for forever and I will always appreciate how much time she put into all of us when she really didn’t have to. She was always the right amount of fun and encouragement, reminding us that class was of course important but that it was okay to skip every once in a while, and do something adventurous on the weekends when we had time.
On a professional level, Finn was still the person that took charge if anything ever happened.
She looked out for us and our best interests when traveling or looking into doing something new and still helped us to have the best time possible. Finn also taught us good ways to use our time abroad in social, business and future professional settings. She gave us tips and tricks on how to incorporate our time abroad into job interviews and what types of questions we could be asked. Finn, without fail, seemed to have all the answers to all the questions we could ever ask and if she ever didn’t, she always knew someone who would. From a cultural perspective, Finn was a huge help in teaching us about Irish culture, language, history and everything in between.
Since Finn, and her husband Kevin, are both from Galway and still live there, they knew just about everything that was on a need to know basis. Finn and Kev took us to many different cultural events around town to help broaden our knowledge of the Irish and their culture. We learned how to set dance (a traditional dance down at weddings), we went to a play about the entire history of Ireland, and numerous nights out that involved traditional and not-so traditional Irish music!
It wasn’t just about the history that I learned culturally though. I also learned about what I real Irish family is like.
Finn and Kevin have three kids together, all of them being younger than ten, so naturally we got to spend a good amount of time with them too. It was eye opening to see how Irish and their culture not only see the world differently but also how they teach their kids differently and raise them. Of course, the differences aren’t vast or anything, but the subtle differences are what I enjoyed the most. Finn was probably one of the better things that I came about on my trip abroad, she opened so many new doors and ideals for me that I may have never seen if it weren’t for her and the talks we had.