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Inside Education and Health Sciences

Flyers Abroad: Business and Sports in Ireland

By Mary Olivia Eyears, '25

I had heard the quote "Life begins at the end of your comfort zone" many times, but I did not really understand the meaning of it until last summer when I had the amazing opportunity to study abroad in Maynooth, Ireland. Studying abroad presents so many learning opportunities and memories that will last a lifetime. Not only did I have the opportunity to experience different cultures, but I also made numerous new friends and forged enduring connections with them.

The classes taken while abroad were quite enjoyable. As part of our coursework, we went on numerous field excursions to learn about the new country we were in and how it was different from the U.S. It was very interesting being able to have teachers from different backgrounds as well. In the Global Sport class with Dr. Haozhou Pu, we learned about mega-events, sports and identity, and international sports business. One of our projects was a mock Olympics bid, in which we had to pick a global city and give a pitch on why our city should be chosen to host the Olympic Games. My International Business professor Dr. Joesphine Igoe from the University of Galway gave me a completely new perspective of international business, especially how business practices are different all over the world. 

While studying abroad, I had the opportunity to meet people from so many different places. Not only did I make new friends from my school, but I also made connections with people from other universities across the world. We even met some students in Ireland who plan to do a year abroad here at Dayton! Visiting a country you have never been before is a big step out of your comfort zone, but meeting new people makes it so worthwhile and as I quoted earlier, "life begins at the end of your comfort zone". 

During our time there, we were provided with incredible opportunities to travel around. I was able to visit many different parts of Ireland and experience different cultures. Class trips were organized to Dublin and Belfast to tour iconic sports facilities such as Croke Park and Windsor Park, where we learned the behind-the-scenes of operating sport events, and the intersections between sports and identity. My International Business class visited the Guinness Enterprise Center on one of its field excursions. This is a place designed to support start-up businesses much like The Hub in downtown Dayton. I also had the opportunity to see Galway which is a coastal city with lots of attractions. Even more, a group of UD students and I planned a trip to Scotland to attend the famous Scottish Open!

Exploring a new country means different people and different cultures to learn about. Ireland has some of the friendliest people and you will find someone to have a conversation with almost anywhere. It's interesting to learn the roots of Irish sports such as Gaelic Football and Hurling and how the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) operates cross-county games, which is quite different from the system in the States. I had the chance to attend a playoff game between Derry vs Kerry in GAA Football All-Ireland Championship at a packed Croke Park in Dublin. Sports are a huge part of the culture and national identity there and the energy was unmatched to any sporting event I have attended. 

My biggest take away from this trip was to take every opportunity and go outside of your comfort zone even if it seems scary. The knowledge that I got, the experiences and the friends that have turned into a family are something that I will cherish for a lifetime. I am so grateful for the UD community and this opportunity they provided for this amazing once-in-a-lifetime trip.

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