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Adventures in Galway

Sarah McDonald in Galway
January 7, 2019

Sarah McDonald’s experience in Galway Ireland was nothing short of amazing! 

"Anybody can go at anytime with any degree. The only thing preventing you from doing something scary is yourself."

She became interested in study abroad after attending a panel during her freshman year at UMD.

Traveling is really important to Sarah, so she felt compelled to find the right program for her.

"I chose Galway because I had wanted to go to Ireland my whole life. I’m so glad the program was in Galway because it ended up being my home away from home," she says.

The experience

During her studies in Galway, Sarah, who is a double major in criminology and psychology, experienced different forms of culture shock.

She explains that the “strong accents and speed of talking” was something she had to get used to while abroad. Despite strong accents, she enjoyed the culture, personable citizens, and beautiful scenery.

Sarah says “the cost of traveling in Europe gets easier because once you’re there, it’s relatively cheap to travel around if you find the right deals.”


Homesickness is something that everyone experiences abroad. What kept Sarah going in Ireland was joining two ultimate frisbee teams. Since she’s a part of the Ultimate Frisbee team at UMD, it was a little slice of home for her while she was in Galway.

She says the “friendliness, inclusiveness, and European currency” is what she wishes she could have brought back to the United States.

Coming home

By living and studying in Galway, Sarah says she “learned a lot more about myself and that I shouldn’t be scared.”

Taking the leap to study abroad can feel daunting. Sarah offers reassurance to anyone who is on the fence about studying abroad. “Anybody can go at any time with any degree. The only thing preventing you from doing something scary is yourself.” Sarah’s adventure in Galway allowed her to discover who she is.

She now works as a study abroad peer advisor. She loves working in the study abroad office helping advise students on what program will fit best.

Sarah wants to make sure students feel comfortable and supported for all facets of the application process. She “wants to share the experience with other students.” She's very grateful that she went to Galway and now wants to inspire others to take the plunge and try it themselves.

“It might seem scary now but it’s well worth it, and you’re going to enjoy yourself. It’s such a great experience for you, your resume, improving skills, and creating cultural awareness. Just do it!” 

Learn more about UMD's criminology program.

Learn more about UMD's psychology program.