My name is Alyssa Rollins and I am an American graduate student from the University of South Carolina. I am halfway through my two-year Master’s degree in Higher Education and Student Affairs, which will allow me to have a career at a university supporting students through their college years. Thanks to the strong partnership between my home university and University of Limerick, I had the opportunity to travel here to Ireland to complete an internship in UL’s International Office. Having never studied abroad in my undergraduate years, I jumped on the chance to live abroad for a summer—especially if it meant being in Ireland!
Despite this being my first extended abroad experience, I have been developing an interest in international comparative higher education over the last year. With how globalized our world has become, I truly value the incomparable insight students can gain from living and studying in another part of the world; by immersing themselves in another culture, these students are often gaining life-changing perspective on what it means to be a global citizen. Furthermore, higher education institutions from around the globe are continually finding more ways for international collaboration, and I personally want to become a better professional in my field by learning as much as I can about other countries’ best practices for educating and providing for their students.
In the UL International Office, I work primarily on projects with Erasmus and Non-EU Exchange as well as serving as a Summer Schools guide. My work has allowed me to compare the strengths and differences between the Irish and American models of higher education, particularly looking at the areas in which the American system can improve in order to better support our students. One of my projects involved reading UL students’ reflections on their semesters at American universities, and I benefited from hearing international students’ perspectives on what they liked, what they did not understand, and what they felt needed improvement. Additionally, being a Summer Schools guide has been one of the best parts of my time here thus far, as it has allowed me to travel on excursions around the country and experience so many pieces of Ireland and Irish culture.
Possibly my greatest takeaway from this internship will be my overall appreciation for University of Limerick as an institution. Working at a university that puts so much value on international education, globalization, inclusivity, and cultural understanding has taught me much about what universities should strive to be. For a budding professional, it is inspiring to see how open the University is to change and how they are always looking to enhance the student experience. I am so grateful for this opportunity and know that my last four weeks here will only bring more adventures, deep learning, and great fish and chips.