In late March of my 2nd year in UCC myself and five others from my year were chosen to spend a semester abroad in West Virginia University as part of a new exchange which the Geology discipline had just started up. None of us had ever been to America so we were all really excited to be getting a chance like this.
When we arrived in West Virginia we immediately felt welcome, people always say everyone loves the Irish but we didn’t realise how true it is until we got there. One of the most striking things about WVU is as they call it their ‘Mountaineer Pride’. Everyone who attends WVU is so proud to be there and be a part of the college, this really came into focus on game day. The football stadium would be packed with people cheering on the college team.
The six of us lived in dorm rooms (2-3 people per room) on campus which turned out to have both good and bad aspects to them. On the one hand it was great because it helped all of us to meet people and settle in properly but on the other hand having to share a bedroom with another person could get annoying sometimes but overall it was a great way to settle in to life in the U.S.
The course content and structure in WVU was slightly more intense to what we were used to in Cork and took some getting used to. You’re expected to be consistently on top of your game every day and for some modules marks would be taken from your final grade if you missed more than a certain amount of classes. The modules we took whilst we were there had some fieldwork elements to them but honestly not a whole lot as more emphasis is placed on attending a ‘field camp’ at the end of your Junior year to learn mapping skills, etc.
Some of the best parts about going to WVU was meeting friends from all over the world who became like family and everything I learned about geology, myself and other people. For anyone reading this who is considering a semester abroad, I would say if you think you can afford it then definitely do it! It sounds like a cliché but it really is a once in a lifetime opportunity. If you decide to go you won’t regret it!