First, I want to wish a very happy congratulations to all those who are going to be studying abroad during the next school year. As someone who is currently enjoying a semester in Galway, Ireland, I can tell you with certainty that studying abroad will be the best experience during your time at Fairfield. Going away for a semester is a time to experience new cultures, try new things and live your life to the fullest extent. Of course, let’s not forget that you’re in another country to go to school as well. Although for many of us, myself included, the chance to attend school in another country was not simply to attend classes, but rather to embrace a rare opportunity and travel, it is important to bear in mind that grades do transfer over.

Don’t ruin semesters of hard work for one semester abroad. You’ll be able to have a great time even if you do attend class, while also finding a good balance and sticking with it. In regards to taking classes in a foreign country, I would suggest that, as registration is looming, anyone studying abroad should take this opportunity to carefully plan out the next few semesters. Classes are different in other countries than they are at Fairfield, and credits don’t always transfer over properly. The advising period is coming up and you should take full advantage of it. Don’t go in blind, grab your PIN number and leave. Make the most out of the meeting now because it will be difficult to get in contact with advisors and professors about changing classes and addressing problems that arise once you are overseas. Also, the study abroad website will not have the list of classes available for visiting students for some time. Perhaps there will be an older course list, but if there’s not, a simple solution is to google the information.

The Internet can be your best friend and in this highly technological age, you would be hard pressed not to find something out there that can help you. Read through the course list. I’m serious; going away is a huge decision and each step should be carefully thought out. For example, if you are a finance major and you choose to study in Galway, know that you cannot take finance classes here. Different countries mean a different style of teaching. In this case, the classes abroad are classified as “finance and accounting” and will not be accepted by either discipline at Fairfield. Additionally, the course booklets will generally have restrictions for visiting students or sections dedicated to them.

I cannot stress enough that you should look at these sections and use them to base your decisions on what classes you should take and when. Know what you still need to take, what will transfer appropriately and what will remain to be completed upon your return to Fairfield. Talk to your department head if there is a problem or if you have a question about the discipline of study that you will be taking abroad. The professors, as a whole, want to see their students do well. It shows preparedness on your side as the student that you did your research and are not planning to take courses abroad for which you won’t receive proper credit.

I know it seems like I’ve emphasized schooling too much and, for many people, studying abroad is seen as a way to escape the stress of classes. However, I hope that you’ll thank me when you arrive at a foreign university with some reasonable sense of what classes you will take. Additionally, getting credit equivalencies done before and having different Fairfield-accepted options to choose from once you’re abroad makes your life much easier. Don’t let me freak you out too much or make you rethink your decision because there is nothing better than experiencing another country.

For me, National University of Ireland, Galway is the opposite of Fairfield. Most of my classes have about 150-250 kids in them, there are only one or two assignments that dictate your grade (they think our continuous assessment system is weird and too much work) and I think that attendance is actually a foreign concept to some of the Irish students (and the visiting students as well). The academic culture difference was a bit of a shock, but it was a new experience and a nice change. Don’t be overwhelmed wherever you go; just breathe and take it all in stride. No matter where you go, make the best of it and your semester will fly by. You are in another country to study and try new things, but above all else, to have fun and enjoy yourself during this life-changing experience.

About The Author

--- Senior | Executive Editor Emeritus --- Finance/English

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.