Editor’s Column: Study Abroad – You Won’t Regret It

Sarah Willson, Editor-in-Chief

By far one of the most liberating and educational things I’ve done throughout my three years here at Central Connecticut involved traveling to two places that possessed more history, more conflict and more culture than I could ever imagine.

I made my way to Ireland and Northern Ireland with CCSU’s journalism and sociology departments last March. The journalism department’s entire spring break was dedicated to reporting on the political and religious troubles that plagued the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland for three decades, claiming the lives of over 3,000 people. Despite a 1999 Good Friday Agreement that aimed to create much-needed peace, Northern Ireland is still reeling from over 30 years of conflict.

The main focus throughout my time there revolved around the conflict that was supposed to be resolved after the agreement. Though things had calmed down significantly as years went on, last weekend’s killing of an on-scene journalist covering a protest in Londonderry, which is where CCSU was, is a sobering reminder that conflict still remains.

Had I not traveled to Northern Ireland, I, like the majority of the population today, would not understand why riots were taking place in Londonderry over the weekend. In short, some are blaming it on uncertainty over Brexit and the possibility of a “hard border” between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. Others are blaming the rising tensions that often take place during the Easter season as a result of the agreement. But that’s only the tip of the iceberg.

One of the biggest arguments I make when talking about traveling abroad is the fact that it allows students to experience a taste of the world around them. Though I was only in Ireland and Northern Ireland for less than two weeks, I can say with confidence that I have never learned so much within such a short period of time.

The people I encountered were not only knowledgeable but also fascinating and able to provide me with a new perspective regarding the world around me. I can easily thank both my professors and my time there for my advanced understanding of the history that surrounds that part of the United Kingdom. Even a year later, I take those lectures and tours with me everywhere I go. After all, knowledge is power.

I credit my travels as part of the reason I was able to land an internship in Washington, D.C. Had I not proved to the international news outlet I’ll be working at that I could travel and report overseas, I may have never even been considered. By going abroad, you’re proving that you aren’t afraid to take on a challenge or put yourself in an unfamiliar, and even uncomfortable, situation.

Though easier said than done, don’t let the cost stop you from at least considering the option. We attend a university that’s fortunate enough to have the ability to award thousands of dollars in scholarships each year. Even if you don’t think you’ll obtain enough, it’s still worth a try. I never expected to, but I went abroad for free. It’s possible.

Wherever you decide to go, make sure you do it for you. Don’t go just because your friends are or you want the course credit: go because it’s to a place you’re passionate and want to learn more about. No matter what far away land you decide to visit, just remember to make the most of it.