An Irishwoman in Washington
Roberta Hoey, International Student
April 26, 2012
Filed under Quill
Dia Duit (Jee-ah ghwich): Hello! (In Irish.)
My name is Roberta Hoey and I come from a small village in County Down, Northern Ireland. I have been lucky enough to come to CUA on a business scholarship as a year out from my own school, where I study at Queen’s University Belfast.
I was able to do all this through a program called Study USA, set up by the Northern Ireland government and American Bishops, as a result of the conflict in the country in the early 1990s. The aim of the program is to allow greater integration between Protestants and Catholics in third level education, while offering the opportunity to students to gain a global perspective on business.
Easter has just passed, and I can’t believe the second semester is nearly over! When I first arrived in August, I missed home a lot, but now I’m not sure how I’m going to say goodbye.
At the beginning, I noticed many differences to home, especially the weather! It was a little difficult to adjust to as I had just come from an Irish “heat wave” of sweltering days in the sixties to the first few weeks here which were in the high eighties. I’ve seen the temperature that high only once before at home, but quickly decided the thermometer was broken.
The food here is also much different than at home. I hate to pander to a stereotype, but the Irish do in fact love potatoes and unfortunately there can be no replacement found! However, I adapted to the food quickly, and I think I gained my very own international version of the ‘Fresher’s 15’! America has provided me with some great foods and I am probably in great risk of becoming highly addicted to Philly Cheese Steak, Reese’s and of course pumpkin pie. Actually, anything with Pumpkin in it is great; I couldn’t believe all the fuss about them until I had my first thanksgiving…something I won’t ever forget!
As well as Thanksgiving I have also had the opportunity to experience some other American traditions, including Halloween festivities, the Super Bowl, the Oscars and Spring Break!
CUA has a really welcoming atmosphere and I was keen to get involved quickly and get to know more people. I have had a lot of fun especially with Alpha Phi Omega and Habitat for Humanity. Over Spring Break I went to Arizona to work with Habitat for Humanity, which also allowed me to travel some more. I have been really fortunate to have traveled around some of this wonderful country. D.C itself is a fantastic city and I can’t wait to see more when I finish in May. However that means having to say goodbye to all of you and I don’t want to do that just yet!
I should say something about the main reason I am here and that is for the education. Queen’s University Belfast has 17,000 students, whereas CUA has just over 3,400. Queen’s University Belfast has over 250 buildings for academics, and has over 3,000 staff, which is rather a lot! I study Law at home and have more than 250 other students in my lectures, but at CUA there are only around 25 other students in my largest class and I do find this smaller class size much easier to work in. Very few of my lecturers at home know my name, or if I’m in class or not, or how I’m doing academically. It is obviously very different here, and so beneficial even if you don’t realise it yet. I hope to practice some form of Commercial Law in the future, so gaining an insight into business is invaluable.
Sometimes I miss the greater independence at home, and I like the fact that we can study subjects like Law and Medicine as undergraduates, but CUA is definitely no less challenging! And the dependence of grades on class participation is an excellent tool to exercise communication skills, an opportunity that gives American collegiate students an upper hand over their international counterparts.
Being an international student has been an experience like no other and one that I think everyone should experience. It has been a year of new things, including my first Catholic mass, sharing a room with someone and eating a s’more. As much as I often miss home it is going to be difficult leaving this place; I have grown very fond of CUA, you have all been wonderful and I hate the fact that the clock is ticking down and soon my 10 months here will be up!
All I have left to say is Go raibh maith agat agus slán (go rah may ag at): Thank you and Goodbye.