When Southeast Missouri State University public relations major Denise Schmidt arrived in Dublin, Ireland, she experienced culture shock.
Public transportation replaced private SUVs, cars and trucks. Techno music hogged the stereos rather than rap, rock or country songs, and Irish slang, instead of LOLs and IDKs, slipped into conversations.
Denise, however, quickly embraced the Irish culture, but she doesn’t deny she is still adjusting to the differences.
“I learn new things everyday, but it was one of the best decisions I have ever made!” Denise says of her decision to spend a semester studying in Dublin.
Denise, of Memphis, Tenn., arrived in Dublin in late January and has been taking communication, consumer and cultural classes at Dublin Institute of Technology.
The school work is much different in Dublin, too, Denise says.
“There are a lot less projects and papers. The majority of the course’s grade comes from the final exam,” Denise said. “You really have to motivate yourself to stay on top of the work because there are few grades throughout the semester.”
Denise said she chose to study in Dublin because she knew it would be a great, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and she had always wanted to experience living in a different country. The fact the Irish speak English –for the most part– also helped.
“They speak English, but they have so many slang words we don’t have. Sometimes it feels like we don’t speak the same language!” Denise said.
Other differences Denise has noticed are the importance of public transportation and the popularity of techno music.
“A lot of people at my college don’t have a car. Some don’t even know how to drive,” Denise said. “It’s pretty common to just rely on public transportation and walking.”
While in Dublin, Denise has had the opportunity to travel to many places in Ireland as well as Europe. She said she has traveled to the cliffs of Moher in County Clare, visited Northern Ireland, and kissed the Blarney Stone in Cork. Outside of Ireland, she spent time in Paris and Scotland and has plans to travel to Greece and London.
Denise adds the faculty at Southeast was pivotal in her preparation to study abroad, providing her with information about classes and insurance among other things.
“My department chair Dr. (Tamara) Baldwin, my advisor Dr. (Susan) Gonders, and professor Dr. (Peter) Gordon were so great in helping me figure out if studying abroad would be possible for me. Having a great resource like Dr. Gordon to answer all my questions definitely eased my worries about going abroad for a semester,” Denise said.
Spending a semester in a place so different from your home can be intimidating, Denise admits, but she encourages students with the slightest interest in studying abroad to take advantage of the opportunity.
"It’s a scary thought leaving home for so long and going to a place where you don’t know anyone, but I have gone to so many places I never would have gotten to see if I didn’t choose to study in Ireland,” Denise said. “It’s a great way to see beautiful places and learn about a different culture.”