March 14, 2014 by Angelika Ghosh
Ten Drexel University freshmen spent their first 15 weeks of college at the Dublin Business School in Ireland. They applied for the Freshmen Frontiers program after completing their college applications for Drexel.
Ireland’s educational system and Drexel’s association with the DBS, in addition to the Foundation for International Education, made Ireland a promising choice for Drexel’s freshman study abroad program.
Ethan Bresnahan, a freshman entrepreneurship and marketing major, received an email about a new study abroad program for freshmen and decided to take a chance.
“I applied as a spur of the moment thing. I had never been out of the country before and thought that college might be a nice way to go abroad. However, when I did get accepted, I really couldn’t picture my college career starting any differently; the idea had just sort of evolved into something that had to happen for me,” Bresnahan said.
Biological sciences major Sydney Wilson was especially excited to go to Ireland because of her father’s Scottish heritage. She heard about the program at a Drexel Accepted Students Day.
“When I heard Ahaji [Schreffler] talk about this new program where you could study abroad in Ireland, my head automatically turned to my dad, who was sitting beside me. He smiled because he knew I was going to go no matter what I had to do,” Wilson said.
The students took general education classes, such as Irish Life & Culture, History of Europe in the 20th Century, as well as major specific classes, such as economics The Irish Life & Culture class helped students learn about the background of Irish society as well as gain a deeper understanding of Irish history.
“I think that what we took away from DBS was the global perspective that these classes provided,” Bresnahan said.
Bresnahan described their economics class as a combination of economics and international business. He also enjoyed that the class was not “America centric.”
“Instead, in one class we would compare the Irish economy and the French economy. I think this approach allowed us to gain a more global perspective when it came to business as well as the rest of our classes,” Bresnahan said.
The freshmen enjoyed a small workload and some had Fridays off as well. The students would walk for a half hour to campus for their one or two classes per day. Beyond that, the city was very accessible.
The Freshmen Frontiers students took advantage of their opportunities to explore Ireland and many other European cities. From France to Spain to Belgium, they learned about various cultures and customs during their travels. During fall break, a week-long vacation in the middle of the semester, the students traveled west to Galway, Ireland, north to Belfast, Ireland, and to the Aran Islands for their Irish Life & Culture class.
“We took day trips to a seaside village called Howth, [Ireland,] as well as a day trip to a farm just outside Dublin. However, it really wasn’t the grandiose trips that made the trip so great, it was the little things; the nights we spent in or the times just before we went out and had a little party before we left, or just sitting on our porch and discussing life that really stand out to me as some of the greatest times of the trip,” Bresnahan said.
“I will definitely be going back again in the near future. … I encourage anyone who’s debating on whether to go or not to just do it! Ten years from now when you look back, will you regret not going to Ireland? Will you regret not sitting on the beach in Barcelona eating nachos and mussels? Will you regret all of the friends you would have made if you had gone? There’s nothing like studying abroad, and I wouldn’t trade anything for the experiences I had while I was away,” Wilson said.
Meagan Alvarez, an international area studies major with a concentration in international business, says the Freshmen Frontiers program was the best decision she has ever made. All of the students grew and matured there while learning to live independently.
“Studying abroad as a freshman is a once in a lifetime experience, and it is what you make of it. … It’s inevitable that any freshman who goes to Dublin will come back feeling like a stronger version of themselves, and they will not look at life the same, along with the fact that they will have an itch to travel more,” Alvarez said.