Hi, my name is Meghan Donovan and I’m a third-year Computer Information Technology major at Champlain College. I have had the incredible opportunity to study abroad in Dublin, Ireland this semester, and I have been having such a fantastic time. Studying abroad means something different for everyone. I wanted to not only explore Europe but to immerse myself in Dublin’s rich community. This was an extremely intimidating thought. How was I supposed to attend events as if I was a local when I am definitely not a local? This thought crippled me for my first two months in Dublin, and come November, I realized I had to overcome this fear in order to start doing the things I wanted to do.
So, I pulled up my MeetUp app and began searching for events. Fortunately, MeetUps are extremely popular in Dublin so there are a wide variety of events for everyone’s interest. I found the group Her+Data, a group designed for women in data technology to meet and share ideas and network. They were having an event at the Google Docks in Dublin, so I took a leap of faith and signed up, not really sure what I was in for.
I was nervous at first, but at the same time extremely excited to finally break out of my comfort zone. I found my way to Google and checked in. I had never been inside of a Google office building before, and its modern architecture reminded me that this side of the city was a part I had never experienced before.
I arrived at the meeting to find data industry professionals and students evenly mixed throughout the group. I even made a friend within the first few minutes. We were given free food (always a plus) and a half-hour to network. Then, we all sat down and listened to three women speak about their projects and experience in the tech industry. Afterward, I even got to meet one of the speakers, who was Director of Analytics for Eir (Ireland’s major telecommunications company) Overall, this MeetUp was successful because I got to meet industry professionals, visit the Google offices, and meet other data students that are living in Dublin!
Studying abroad is what you make of it
I believe that studying abroad is what you make it. For me, traveling through Europe is a big part, but I also want to feel as though I am a part of the city I live in. Volunteering in the community, as well as participating in a MeetUp has made me feel that I am absorbing Dublin’s rich culture and community. While my time abroad may be ending soon, I am glad that I have been able to attend so many different events that have made me feel like Dublin is home. So for those who are preparing to study abroad, make a list of what you want out of your semester in Dublin. If you want to immerse yourself in Dublin’s community, I highly recommend getting yourself out there and breaking out of your comfort zone… I promise it will only do you good.