Thursday, February 27, 2014

Mixing Gemstone with the Blarney Stone: A Student Perspective to Studying Abroad

Sophomore Eric McCaffrey shares her experience studying abroad in Ireland: 

This semester I set off for the Emerald Isles to study abroad at University College Cork in Cork, Ireland. I think the biggest draw to studying abroad is, of course, the opportunity to experience a new culture. However, since arriving in Ireland two months ago I have found that studying abroad enhances nearly every facet of the college experience… Gemstone included! From an academic standpoint studying abroad has afforded me the opportunity to continue with my coursework for my microbiology major while also diving into the Irish culture. It has become a ‘normal’ day for me to go from speaking Gaelic and listening to Irish traditional music in the morning to learning about Immunology and Medical Microbiology in the afternoon! Additionally, participating in a public health internship is giving me the chance to gain a new perspective on health and medicine.

I am of course still a member of my Gemstone team—Team ATTENT—while abroad. While it may seem difficult or a burden to maintain work on a Gemstone team while abroad, it has actually been a very easy transition. My team, mentor, and the Gemstone staff have been incredibly accommodating. One of my favorite parts of the week is being able to Skype into team meetings and see some familiar faces from back at home! I still feel that even while abroad, I am able to contribute towards all the work the team has been doing on our thesis proposal and grant applications this semester. While in Ireland I have gotten the opportunity to converse with professors and medical professionals about the research Team ATTENT will be doing. Hearing their input and perspective is definitely enriching the research process and allowing me to look at our research problem in new ways.

If the academic opportunities and Gemstone experience are not enough of a reason to study abroad as a Gemstone student then the cultural opportunities should seal the deal. To be able to experience the Irish culture, along with other European countries, makes every day an exciting adventure! For all that it has offered me already, studying abroad is the best decision I have made while at UMD… besides joining Gemstone of course!

-Erin McCaffrey: Team ATTENT: Class of 2016

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