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Study abroad in Ireland helps Matt Horan ’16 define his life’s path

Study abroad in Ireland helps Matt Horan ’16 define his life’s path

By Ashley Legin ’17

Like any other student at Otterbein, Matthew Horan ‘16 has always had an interest in one day traveling the globe. It was something he had nested in the back of his head, and when other students told him how great of an experience it was to study abroad, he knew it was time.

Once Horan made the step to talk to faculty, he began narrowing his many options down. He was leaning towards studying somewhere in Europe so he could travel on the weekends and experience an array of cultures.

“When deciding on locations in Europe, I narrowed my choices down to the Netherlands and Ireland,” said Horan. “I chose Ireland because my professor recommended that if I went to an English speaking country I would have an easier time adjusting to the culture and more time to learn all I could.”

Ultimately, Horan chose to study at the University College Cork in Ireland. He arrived on the Emerald Isle three weeks early to adapt to the university and begin submerging himself into his surroundings.

“I arrived early and took a class similar to our May term at Otterbein,” said Horan. “I was in class with about 15 Americans, which enabled me to befriend others as well as work together to better understand the Irish culture.”

Horan also took several other classes, including Econometrics and Public Expenditures. These forced him to understand complex issues and to change his perspective formed by living in the United States.

Even though he had classes during the week, Horan was able to get out and experience Europe on the weekends. He traveled throughout the Republic of Ireland and mainland Europe.

“In addition to the Republic of Ireland, I visited Northern Ireland, Germany, France, Netherlands, Italy, Norway, Belgium, the Czech Republic, England and Spain,” Horan said. “Also, I went to Paris for a day with two friends. None of us spoke any French, however, I was able to use hand gestures and my limited knowledge to guide us through the city and interact with others because Parisians would not speak English to us.”

When asked about his fondest memory of the semester, Horan could not choose only one. He took over 1,000 pictures to remember the sites, food and friends from this adventure. Horansays the individuals he met and had befriended are some of the most caring and interesting individuals he has ever met.

“I went by myself and made numerous friends from America, Europe and Australia, and they all share wanderlust with me.”

Ireland now feels like home to Horan. He has never been anywhere else where the people are so friendly, or where it felt overwhelmingly safe. He loved the crisp, greenery of the outdoors and the friendly environment that filled the pubs.

Horan recommends studying abroad to other Otterbein students without hesitating because he learned more in four and a half months overseas than he has anytime else. He lived thousands of miles away from his comfort zone, which caused him to grow and develop an understanding of different cultures and. His eyes were also opened to global issues not covered as extensively in the United States.

Because of this amazing experience, Horan has plans to travel more in the future. He is still deciding what he wants to do when he graduates, as well as where he wants to live.

“If I do not stay in Columbus, I hope to move to Korea, Australia or Ireland because they offer jobs to recent graduates with time off so I would be able to do more traveling,” said Horan. "While there is no set location of where and when I will travel next, I now have a list of top destinations I must visit.”

“This experience was everything I had hoped for and more. The experiences I had, the lessons I learned and friends I made will be with me forever. It has greatly impacted my way of life,” said Horan.

Find out all the study abroad opportunities Otterbein offers.