Jillian O'Connor

Nursing Abroad: Jillian O'Connor '17 Studies in Ireland

What's your major at Simmons? 

I'm a nursing major. I've known that I wanted to be a nurse for as long as I can remember — most likely influenced by my mother who is a pediatric nurse. Taking nursing classes and participating in clinicals has only made me more excited for my future career.

Tell us about the your study abroad experience at the University College Dublin's School of Nursing & Midwifery.

The four week class was a union between nursing and public health disciplines. We learned about the history of nursing in Ireland, assessed patient safety initiatives and compared and contrasted the different types of healthcare systems used throughout the world. 

There were some really awesome cultural field trips included in the program — our group learned how to play traditional Irish games and explored the beautiful Wicklow Mountains. Knowledge we gained from the class combined with independent research on a related research topic culminated through our final papers, which was our main assessment. 

What was your favorite part of studying abroad?

Meeting so many different people from around the world. Dublin is Ireland's largest and most populated city and a huge percentage of the population is not from Ireland. Because it welcomes so many people from so many different countries, its population is diverse and worldly.

Moreover, the University College Dublin itself has a huge international study abroad program, so the campus community is full of different cultures. Within our nursing summer school program, our cohort consisted of students from across the U.S. and I'm fortunate to have met such wonderful people. 

What are some valuable lessons you learned in Ireland?

I learned how to really make my time worthwhile. Because I only had a few weeks, I put in a conscious effort into making each day count. Every day after class, I went into the city center to experience a new part of Dublin and immerse myself in the culture of the city. I learned from my positive experiences in Ireland that this kind of mentality extends beyond just my study abroad trip. I plan on going into my senior year at Simmons with this same energy to make the most of my college experience and final year as an undergraduate student.

Any favorite treats you tried while in Ireland? Favorite excursions?

The best excursion I went on was to the Aran Islands that are off of the Irish west coast. I was able to explore the island of Inis Oirr and experience the uninterrupted nature and sheer tranquility of the traditional Ireland. With pebbly coasts, crews of local fishermen and preserved stone walls of yesterday, Inis Oirr was the most unforgettable place I visited and the one I am most excited to return to. Even on the coldest, rainiest, foggiest day, the island's beauty was unimaginable.

Favorite treats include a traditional breakfast, fish and chips from any coastal towns, a pint of Irish cider, Aran Islands fudge, Irish butter and pastries from everywhere in Dublin.

What advice would you give to students considering studying abroad?

Definitely try it! As college students, now is the best time to explore the world and live in a new place for a few weeks or a whole semester. Start planning your schedules around possible study abroad trips as early as possible. While the majors at Simmons are rigorous and a semester away can be difficult to coordinate, studying abroad is definitely possible with a few summer classes or an extra class a semester. It's important to do research about the classes offered in the location you're looking to go to in order to maximize the value of your class schedule abroad.

What made you choose Simmons?

Its central location in the heart of Boston. Not only does Boston boast some of the world's most cutting-edge teaching hospitals, but it also has a persevering spirit that cannot be rivaled by any other city. 

What's your Simmons Moment?

My Simmons Moment occurs at the end of every spring semester when I look out at the view of Boston with my friends from the roof of the School of Management.

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