Kelsey Welke’s Adventure’s Abroad

Welke

Meet with the Global Education Director, Kevin Spears: check.

Receive acceptance letter from Dublin City University in Ireland: check.

Buy round-trip airplane ticket: check.

Pay for housing at Shanowen Hall: check.

Start packing for my study abroad exchange: Well, that’s on my to-do list.

The emerald isle is where I’ll call home for the next four months, and I can’t begin to explain the rush of emotions I feel.

I’ve been out of the country before, but this time I’ll be spending four months living in a foreign country.

I’ll be spending my semester at DCU, which is 10 minutes north of Dublin.

DCU has just over 11,000 students, so the campus size is about the size of UW-Whitewater.

I’ll be staying in Shanowen Hall, which is a suite-style building very similar to Starin Hall on the UW-Whitewater campus.

I received my acceptance letter from DCU in early November. Getting an acceptance letter from UW-Whitewater was cool, but getting an acceptance letter from a university in Ireland was much cooler.

Little did I know, Dublin is one of the most expensive cities in Europe.

Thankfully, the main language spoken in Dublin is English and the other, less-spoken language, is Irish.

I’ve been to Ireland once before. Last January, my mom and I vacationed there.

I fell in love with Dublin and its jolly, red-haired habitants and their cheerful accents. I noticed how incredibly nice everyone in Ireland was.

DCU is perfect for me to study at because it has a well-known journalism program, so I will be taking all journalism and communication classes.

I’m going as an exchange student so I will pay UW-Whitewater’s tuition.

Applying to study abroad was much more work than I expected. I have had to read, fill out, sign and make copies of more papers and documents than I can remember.

Getting my housing deposit and payment wire transferred to a bank in Dublin was a headache.

With the six-hour time difference and dollar to euro conversion, transferring payments was more difficult than I imagined.

I have everything paid for and all the documents signed, but I have to get my student visa when I arrive in Dublin.

Now, I just have to pack my clothes into two suitcases that seem to get smaller every time I look at them. I am known for packing my entire wardrobe when I go on vacation, so space bags may become my new best friend.

If I had a dollar for every time someone asked me, “Are you excited to go?” I would probably have my whole trip paid for.

In all honesty, I’m much more nervous than excited. I’ve done all the prep work and the logistics, but have yet to mentally prepare myself to leave.

It seems unreal.  Since I came to college, my dream has been to study abroad. Now that I have less than 15 days in the United States, I want more time here.

The good news is I’ll have seven-and-a-half hours on the plane over the Atlantic Ocean to prepare myself.

I’ll fly out at 9:15 p.m. and arrive at noon the next day in Dublin, which works out perfectly because orientation at DCU is the day after.

Flying makes me a little on edge, but I’m on the same flight as Rose Schneider, a senior at UW-Whitewater who is also going to DCU.

We plan to travel around Europe during our spring break and after finals.

I am very fortunate and grateful to have this experience and I encourage everyone who’s interested in studying abroad to look into it.

My advice to anyone who is thinking about studying abroad or doing an exchange program: don’t procrastinate. Trust me, the whole process of studying abroad is stressful enough. Adding to that by missing deadlines will only add to your stress.

I leave on Jan. 31, and there are only a few more things I need to do before I leave: Invest in rain boots, a raincoat and hats; pack my life into two suitcases for four months; and teach my mom and dad how to use Skype.

Until next time, slán (that’s Irish for “goodbye”).

Above are pictures Welke took while vacationing in Dublin last January with her mother. Welke will return to Dublin as an exchange student this semester.

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