Gabrielle Larson

Major: Kinesiology and Health
Class: Sophomore
Timeframe: Summer 2024
Type of Experience: Study abroad
Program: Experience Kinesiology in Ireland
Destination: Ireland

Overall Experience

This study abroad experience was everything I had hoped for and more! I applied for this program in hopes of diversifying my knowledge in topics similar to my future career, occupational therapy. On the trip, we attended lectures to learn about Irish history, Gaelic sport, public health, and also were able to do hands on work with a physiotherapist. The learning aspect of the trip was captivating, but the scenery and historical sites were just as fascinating. On the trip, we were able to make our way all the around the Southern counties of Ireland. After leaving Dublin, we visited Galway, Killarney, Cork, and many other small towns along the way. We were able to experience so much, and really take in all of the beautiful scenery and history there is to see around the country. Although we were only in Ireland for 16 days, I feel as if I learned so much, and have gained knowledge and experiences that will be useful in my future as a healthcare worker, and also help me to become a better person.

Learning experience

The most valuable learning experience I encountered during this trip would be experiencing all the culture and traditions, and comparing them to our lives in the US. Ireland is different from the US in many ways, and I had to learn how to act and behave in a way that respected their country. We had the opportunity to learn about Irish history, and take in all of the sites and ruins throughout the country. Ireland has many more historic sites than I have ever seen before while traveling. I found it very interesting to learn about what used to be there, what they did, and how it impacted their lives. I will be happy to use my understanding of their culture and traditions in my future life and career.

Memorable experience

The most memorable experience I have from this trip would be hiking along the Cliffs of Moher. I had seen pictures from this hike many times before, but nothing compares to seeing this scenery in real life. Our group hiked 5 miles along these cliffs. Throughout the hike you are able to see much more than just the cliffs, there are farm animals, flowers, boats, waves, and much more. Pictures truly do not show all of the beauty there is to see.

What did you not expect?

One aspect that surprised me while working with the physiotherapists in Ireland is how much more they use their hands for therapy than we do in the US. I have experienced PT before for a knee injury, and always was told to use a machine or piece of equipment for treatment. Very little did my PT use only her hands and body to heal my injury. This has inspired me within my future career. Although I am planning to work in occupational therapy, these therapists are in some ways similar to physical therapists. I like the idea of using more of your skills while working with patients rather than instructing them to use a machine. This provides a more holistic approach to bettering the patient, and I am hopeful to use what I have learned in Ireland within my future career.

What advice would you give?

One piece of advice I would give to students who have interest in studying abroad is to find a friend within your same major and apply together! I have always had interest in studying abroad, but have always been afraid because I am a more quiet and anxious person. Having a friend to rely on and talk to throughout the trip was super helpful, and I am so happy that we were able to experience this trip together.

How has this experience impacted your life?

This experience has impacted my life in many ways. As a future healthcare worker, working in diverse settings is highly important. Through this experience, I was able to work hands-on with physiotherapists in Ireland, and learn about their techniques and strategies while working with patients. I also was able to learn how different their sports are in Ireland compared to the US. They take much more pride and nationality in their sport than we do, and it truly shows in their performance. Personally, this trip has taken me out of my comfort zone. I was quite nervous to leave the country without my family and take on these experiences, but I am so happy I did. I now feel much more confident on my own, and would like to visit more countries outside of the US. Overall, I look forward to discussing this trip throughout my career, and am beyond excited to have learned and experienced so much while studying abroad.

How did you learn about this experience?

I first learned about this opportunity from one of my good friends I met at Iowa State. She had been browsing around the ISU study abroad page and came across this experience, and instantly told me to look into it. After taking a look, this appeared to be the perfect study abroad experience for me. It was toward the beginning of the summer, only about two weeks, had great opportunities and experiences, would give me 3 credits, etc. We both applied right away, and were fortunate enough to have both been accepted!

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