We caught up with Jena Araojo, an AIFS in Limerick, Ireland student, who recently was awarded a certificate by the United States Ambassador to Ireland for her service as an International Student Ambassador at the University of Limerick (above). She told us a bit about that role, transitioning into life on the Emerald Isle, and how getting involved on campus really impacted her study abroad experience.
Sláinte! I am a rising senior at the College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia where I am pursing a Bachelors of Business Administration in Marketing, a concentration in Business Analytics, and a minor in Sociology. The beginning of my junior year, I decided I wanted to try something new, go outside of my comfort zone in both my academic and personal life. Soon after, I decided to study abroad. I found University of Limerick to be a good fit for me because campus was quite “homey” with a variety of business courses, extracurricular opportunities, and chances to make memories around the country and across Europe. As a well-involved student at the College of William & Mary, I knew I wanted to continue my interests of sharing my experiences with a new student body at my home away from home.
I was beyond homesick when I came to Ireland. I felt like a freshman again as I was alone in a completely new place surrounded by people I did not know. It was a hard adjustment to say the least, but getting involved as an Ambassador allowed me to continue similar programs that I work with back at The College of William & Mary. Very quickly, I found myself peppy and outgoing again, ready to take the semester by storm. With a love for promoting things I am passionate about, I knew becoming an International Student Ambassador would allow me to share my perspective of what the University of Limerick is like for potential study abroad students.
As an International Student Ambassador, I spent the semester promoting the university through a variety of media platforms. I had the opportunity to take over the International Education Office’s social media accounts, sharing my perspective and experiences of both the university and of Ireland. From writing blogs about my time at the University of Limerick to starring in promotional campaigns for the university, I had so many wonderful opportunities to share my excitement for my culture and the new cultures I was learning about. Even more so, I have had the chance to help execute program events for the office and capture the entire event on social media. In addition to my time as a Communications Workshop Coordinator and leading team member of Enactus Ireland, my volunteerism with the IED has allowed me to earn a Presidential Volunteer Award with the University for my near 40 hours of service this semester.
Looking back on my time as an Ambassador, I would not change a thing. I went outside of my comfort zone and grew as a student. I have taken my passions and have applied them in a different context and will be leaving with new experiences that I hope will aid other students. Overall, studying abroad allowed me to gain international experience that I would not have otherwise. From working with students of different cultures and backgrounds in my business courses, to stripping down and rebuilding the SparkED program with fellow Enactus members, to sharing my love for being a spokesperson for the university, I have truly taken every opportunity that has come my way.
Ireland was a great place to study because I left the hustle and bustle of the city that I thrive in for a much calmer and peaceful environment. But, I found that there was always plenty to do and see each weekend that I was traveling. With major airports at my front door, I was able to travel all across Europe to experience new cultures.
I am beyond thankful for the opportunity to study abroad and I know I will have new perspectives and skillsets to bring back with me to apply in my senior year of college and in my professional life.
This post was contributed by Jena Araojo, who spent her spring semester studying abroad with AIFS in Limerick, Ireland. In addition to her involvement at the University of Limerick, Jena was also an official AIFS Snapchatter, showcasing her experiences in Ireland and beyond via the AIFS Snapchat account.