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Meet Riley McClanahan (she,they)

Program and Location:

Summer, Civil Engineering in Ireland; Dublin, Ireland


Majoring in ecological engineering with a minor in applied ecology

Why did you choose to study abroad?

I chose to study abroad to gain confidence outside of my comfort zone. When I am learning new ways of life and experiencing difficulties I think that is when you grow the most. I also chose to study abroad to better understand different perspectives.

What did you learn about yourself?

I learned so much about myself including that I love exploring new places especially national parks. I learned that I love being with others whilst I also really enjoy doing things alone such as solo hikes.

What was one of your favorite parts of your program?

I loved the week long trip to Belfast. I felt like it gave me the opportunity to destress and really immerse myself in this new place. We saw some of the most beautiful parts of Ireland.

What advice do you have to future study abroad students?

Study abroad! It’s an unforgettable experience. Don’t forget to take time for yourself and do what calls to you even if no one else wants to do it.

Were you surprised by anything during your time abroad?

I was surprised by how welcoming the people were. Irish people are known to be super friendly but I had no idea that I would have meaningful conversations with strangers that just happened to live near the campus. I think it gave me a happy culture shock when people would stay around to really hear how I was doing.

In what ways did your identity have an impact on your experience abroad?

My identity gave me an even deeper appreciation for the Irish culture. Most people there were extremely accepting of my queerness. I also felt extremely accepted by the group of classmates that came with me. We even all attended pride together. Although this may have been an exceptional group I would try and find likeminded people that are also LGBTQ+.

Would you do it again?