By Alex Goreham
When I first thought about applying to study abroad, the biggest question was, which program would be best for me and my needs? What type of program would allow me to grow as a person as I experienced new things while giving me comfort and a sense of accomplishment? Of course, this varies from person to person as everyone has a different level of comfort with studying and traveling, and in my case the Irish History Group Study Program allowed to explore new views of the world, places and story topics while having support. system that kept me grounded and gave me a sense of comfort. Even though I spent months discussing this opportunity with my family, peers, and UCalgary faculty and staff, I still had my doubts about the trip and the people I knew I would spend twenty days but had never encountered, although one of the reasons I chose a group study program was because I used to travel in groups. Even when I was alone at the airport, I was scared and nervous when this program was the perfect program for me. One thing I wish I had known before I went is that these feelings are totally normal because even when something is perfectly suited it’s still a new experience and it should be embraced which is exactly which I did once we all met. at the airport.
The peers I had the privilege of traveling with immediately created a support system, and I think it was because we all recognized each other’s nervous feelings and energy. I immediately felt listened to, I was constantly encouraged to share my ideas and I was already growing as a person and a young academic. Since most of my peers in this program weren’t history students, we all challenged ourselves to think differently and approach challenges from different angles. Personally, this might not have been something I would have experienced in an individual-focused program, as my first course of action would be to connect with others with similar interests or in programs similar to mine. It changed my view of UCalgary and the Calgary community as I was able to meet and collaborate with a diverse group of minds.
In addition to meeting new people from Calgary through this program, I also got to meet people from the cities and towns we were visiting, and many of them were very interested in sharing their stories with a group of students. These stories and points of view that we experienced during our free time also allowed us to share new perspectives with our peers who went to learn different stories as well as to share our experiences with the teachers and to integrate these personal moments into our lessons and our historical fieldwork. It was clear throughout the registration and orientation process that collaboration would be an important aspect of this program, as it was a group program, but I never imagined that I would be able to collaborate with locals. and my peers in our spare time, which became part of my historical and political understanding of Ireland and strengthened the relationships and discoveries I had made.
Although a group study program seemed daunting at first because I had never met any of the people I was traveling with, it was the perfect fit for me because of what I was able to do and learn. ‘learn. I felt comfortable because there was the structure of working with others, often relying on you, but there was also the freedom to explore and learn on my own after the day was over. . As someone who missed out on the collaboration aspect of my undergraduate studies, this program allowed me to experience a new side of being a student of history while making connections and learning stories that I don’t want to Never forget.
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