Raven Bailey (CS ’19) participated in the Communicating Across Cultures in Dublin program led by Associate Professor Laura Miller and Director John Haas during the summer of 2019. Then a senior, she has since graduated from UT, but we caught up with her nonetheless to hear about her first time being abroad.
Learn more about CCI’s Communicating Across Cultures in Dublin summer program.
Did you face any challenges in your decision to study abroad?
One of the biggest challenges was finding aid. Unfortunately, I couldn’t use my HOPE Scholarship toward the program, but that was because I didn’t do the research beforehand, so just make sure you speak with One Stop and the Programs Abroad Office before, so you can have that all figured out. But I was able to get another scholarship through the Programs Abroad Office and as well as a couple of scholarships from CCI. So, those really helped a lot, and I was able to afford to go.
Do you have any advice for students who might have questions about how their identity might play into their experience abroad?
That is definitely something that I was worried about. I feel like for any person of color, especially anyone that’s Black, before you travel somewhere (especially somewhere abroad) you’re going to be Googling “Are people racist in…?” I definitely did that for Ireland. I also looked up things like the crime rate, how they respond to women and how women are treated, just for safety reasons. I had people in my family concerned about that and helping me do research on it.
Thank goodness that was not something I experienced while abroad, but as I said, I did my research on it. As far as advice goes, I would say if you are worried about things like that do your research because that could be a deal breaker for you. It might be a really good program and cost effective, but if you feel like you’re going to be put in an environment where you’re not going to be comfortable, or where you feel like you’re not going to be accepted, then I wouldn’t say it’s worth it.
So, just make sure you do your research and make that decision for yourself and what you’d be most comfortable with because it would be completely awful to get to a foreign country and feel unsafe and scared and not accepted.
What courses did you take while in Ireland?
While abroad, I took intercultural communication with Dr. Miller and Organizational Communication with Dr. Haas. I feel like they were relevant for study abroad because we were able to pull from our different experiences, just going out in the environment and in Dublin, and bringing that back to the classroom and being able to analyze and compare the differences between American culture and culture in Ireland. It was super fascinating, and it made the content a lot more tangible and understandable because it was something that we were living every single day.
Do you have an assignment or lesson that stood out to you the most?
My favorite assignment was in Organizational Communication and in groups, we were tasked with choosing a company or organization that was based in the United States and bringing it to Ireland. We had to come up with a plan for launching it in Ireland. You wind up doing a lot of research on the culture and people of Dublin and the environment and how they might respond to the organization you’re proposing to bring to the country. It made us think about the political climate and economy and things like that – like Brexit.
Can you talk about your memorable experiences outside of class?
We got the chance to travel to Belfast in Northern Ireland, which was a whole lot of fun. We visited the Cliffs of Moher, which was one of my favorite excursions because it was just a really, really nice area, the scenery was perfect, and the sun was shining. The weather was perfect on the day that we went, which was rare because while we were in Ireland it rained a lot.
Pick a favorite memory from studying abroad in Dublin.
Uh, it’s so hard to just pick one, but if I had to, I would say getting together with my classmates on one of our last nights before going back home. We went to this karaoke bar, and we just enjoyed everybody’s company cause, you know, it was our last night to go out in Ireland. We were just like, “I’m gonna miss you!” We were all kind of sad the trip was ending – definitely bittersweet, but we all had a really good time. It was good closure, you know?
What would you say to someone who is ‘on the fence’ about studying abroad?
There’s no reason to be on the fence. If it’s a financial issue, there are several different ways that you can find funding – talk to the program directors or the Programs Abroad Office. They can help you find ways to find scholarships regardless of your major or program. For example, there’s the Gilman Scholarship for Pell Grant recipients. Just make sure to pay attention to deadlines! Don’t wait too late to apply for your program or funding.