Friday, March 20, 2015

From Ireland to Ferrum - An International Student Experience

by Caoimhe R., Panther Blogger

Hi, or should I say hello or as we say in Ireland, "well, what's the craic?"  This is a saying which I'm accustomed to saying at home when I see my friends, but also one which has won me several odd looks from people who don't understand what it means since I've arrived in the states.  If you ask someone "what the craic is?" at home, you are normally just asking them what they've been doing recently or what's up.  If you say "that was unreal craic" after a night out, then normally, you're just saying it was a great time.  I just thought that it was important to clear that up; if you ever go to Ireland, that will definitely be a useful piece of information to know!

My name is Caoimhe, I'm 22 years old and am an international student at Ferrum College.  My name can also sometimes be a source of confusion, but it's a Gaelic name derived from the Irish language and is pronounced like "Keeva".  It's also number one on "the most mispronounced Irish names in America".  Since I've arrived here, I've been called "Kayomi," "Teeva," and numerous other things!  I know that as a word, the letters and sounds don't always add up, and sure it's all a bit of fun at the end of the day.

Me with some new friends at Ferrum
You're probably wondering how I ended up coming to Ferrum College all the way from Ireland.  Basically, my whole story started over a year ago when I applied for a scholarship offered by the British Council called Study USA, also known as the Study, Work, Create program.  I was one of eight people from my college, St. Mary's University College in Belfast, to apply for this opportunity, but never in a million years would I have envisioned being accepted into the program let alone becoming a student at Ferrum College!  Fortunately, five others from my college and I were placed in the program.  Bearing in mind that there were approximately 400 students who applied around 65 places, I felt as though I accomplished a major goal in being selected from a competitive group of students.  This scholarship meant a great deal of importance to me, and it had been my motivation since the start of my college education to study in the states.

Ferrum Cross Country
My journey to Ferrum College started on the 28th of August 2014.  I remember waking up at three in the morning and getting ready for the day of travel ahead.  I made my way to Dublin airport and said that final goodbye to my family.  It's strange how the reality of a situation, despite how much you prepare for it mentally, never hits you until you are present in the moment.  I remember looking back at my family standing at the airport doors just before I got on the elevator to go through security.  Although a part of me felt incredibly sad to say goodbye, I knew that what was ahead of me would be an experience of a lifetime.  I arrived at Ferrum College on the Thursday before classes started and that is the beginning of my whole story.  I must admit, I had one of those "what am I doing here?" moments when I initially arrived, but I reminded myself that what I felt was completely normal - after all, I was over three thousand miles from home!

Ferrum Women's Cross Country
Homecoming Parade at Ferrum
Since then, I have tried my best to embrace the experience!  I joined the cross country team in my first semester, as well as other clubs and societies on campus which provided me with a great opportunity to meet new people.  Although I've only lived here for about six months, I believe this experience has totally changed my outlook on life!

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