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Natasha Samuel: Going Abroad In Ireland

Who knew one trip abroad could change a person’s life so much? For second year PR student Natasha Samuel, all it took was one study abroad trip to Ireland, and she’s already planning her next trip abroad, and planning her future with travel in mind. It is a testament to how study abroad trips can truly impact a student’s life.

Samuel said that she chose USF specifically when applying to schools, because of its many opportunities to study abroad. Samuel also mentioned that studying abroad was one of her college goals. The reason she chose Ireland for her first study abroad trip has to do with the USF faculty adviser on the trip, Dr. Rick Wilber, and her own family heritage.

“Ireland appealed to me because I had Dr. Wilbur as a professor and he was always really passionate about it,” Samuel said. “And I have Irish heritage.”

Samuel is not the only student who was interested in the Ireland trip because of her professor, Dr. Wilber. Samuel’s close friend on the trip, Madeline Miller, said that having Dr. Wilber talk about the Ireland trip in her spring class got her looking into the trip.

Though the trip was only 17 days long, there was still an educational portion. The first five days the students took classes twice a day at Trinity College in Dublin, for which they earned six credits. The classes were very interactive, and focused on conversational lectures with topics consisting of literature, history, music and film. There were also guest speakers in these classes, like authors, poets and bagpipe players. After those five days in class, the learning was more hands on by sightseeing historical places, visiting museums and nature sights.

Samuel’s favorite destination however, is Inisheer, which is one of the three Aran Islands. It is the smallest of the three islands just off the coast of Ireland, and has a population of about 250 people.

“It was like taking a step back in time because everyone was either a farmer, or a craftsman,” Samuel said of Inisheer. “It was a really unique experience, and it was definitely my favorite day.”

While on the trip Samuel formed close friendships with the other students. While there were only 14 students on the trip, they quickly bonded.

“I feel like I made lifelong friends,” Samuel said. “We just became a family while we were there.”

Miller, Samuel’s friend on the trip, also mentioned the close friendships that formed.

“I’ll have the memories forever, but I also have the friends,” Miller said. “I’ll never have anything like that with anyone else.”

Miller recalled that one of her favorite memories with Samuel on the trip was before they even arrived in Ireland. They were on their way to Ireland, and they both reached their connecting flight in North Carolina together. While they were walking to the plane, Miller recalls her and Samuel were screaming “We’re going to Ireland” and they both couldn’t stop smiling they were so excited.

Study abroad was not just a fun time for Samuel, she said how she feel she gained independence from her trip to Ireland. She learned how to manage money and travel on her own for the first time. She also learned about the culture of Ireland, and how the U.S. differs from other countries.

“It opened my eyes to how people are definitely different than in the United States,” Samuel said.

When asked about her future traveling plans, Samuel was quick to say that she wants to study abroad next summer. She even laughed at herself for how fast she answered that question. Samuel is thinking of traveling to Italy next summer.

Though it’s not just a study abroad trip that Samuel is interested in. She has looked into volunteering opportunities abroad, and is interested in an international internship. She also would love to be a travel blogger. Samuel blogged while on her Ireland trip. Through blogging on that trip, she realized not only is she passionate about traveling, but also writing.

Dr. Wilber, the faculty adviser on the trip, mentioned that since this was his 23rd time going on the Ireland trip with students. He mentioned that he has two dozen years’ worth of students who tell him how that trip changed their life. Samuel is one of many who were impacted by that trip.

“We’re proud of the impact that it has on students” said Dr. Wilber regarding the Ireland trip. “Any study abroad opportunity is a good opportunity for students to broaden their horizons.”


I’m a Carolina girl turned USF bull, majoring in Mass Communications- Public Relation. I'm a lover of cats, family, friends and mac n cheese, in no particular order.
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