Spending a semester studying abroad may be intimidating to many students, but for Southeast Missouri State University student William Aubuchon, it was an opportunity he could not pass.
William, an international business major from St. Louis, said he has always wanted to expand his knowledge of different cultures, and when he found a friend who also wanted to study abroad, he took the plunge and began preparing for a semester in Dublin, Ireland.
“I wanted to experience something new,” William said. “I chose Dublin because English is their primary language, and I wanted to experience their rich culture.”
William’s excitement to study in Ireland distracted him from the anxiety of adapting to a new culture, and he admitted the only preparation he did was “try to figure out how I was going to get everything I need for five months into only two suitcases.”
He said once he arrived in Ireland, however, adjusting to the culture—and the change of time zones—took some time.
“Everything here is smaller; apartments and houses are small and built right next to each other. Vehicles are smaller for better gas efficiency. Grocery stores only have fresh vegetables and meat; nothing is pre-made or frozen. You either travel by walking or public transportation,” William said. “And the time change—adjusting six hours is harder than you think.”
Through the study abroad program in Ireland, William said he has already made unforgettable memories. He has traveled to Cork, Galway, Houth and Wicklow in Ireland, and he plans to visit Rome and Venice, Italy, the Netherlands, London and Germany before he returns to the States at the end of May. He says his favorite moments in Ireland thus far, however, were the Ireland vs. Scotland Six Nations rugby match he attended and the St. Patrick’s Day parade and festivities.
William said he is grateful that Southeast offers overseas study programs to its students because it is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity which he will never forget, although he admits he misses the familiarity of home.
“It’s the little things you take for granted that you don’t have once you travel overseas. For example, you can’t talk to friends and family whenever you want, although Skype has made this a little easier,” William said.
At Southeast, William is a member of the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity and the International Business Club, and he plans to graduate in December.
He encourages other students to take advantage of the overseas study programs Southeast offers because of the unforgettable memories it provides.
“I cannot stress enough to take advantage of this opportunity. I am so glad I took advantage of the overseas study program at Southeast and that I get to experience it with one of my closest friends. It’s something I’ll never forget,” he said.