By: Mollie Lastovica
When senior agricultural leadership and development student Bobbi Frieda opted out of a fall semester in College Station, she had no idea how much she would learn about herself and the world. Frieda is currently part of the Texas A&M College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Non EU Exchange, studying at University College Dublin in Dublin, Ireland.
“Studying abroad helps you grow in every area,” Frieda said. “It allows you to see things that you never knew existed and helps you see beyond the borders of your home country.”
Frieda arrived in Ireland Sept. 2 and will continue at the university through Dec. 20. She chose the country for its aesthetic appeal, her family’s ancestry and because Ireland is English-speaking. At UCD, she is one of many international students who represent 120 countries across the world.
“I have learned so much and have gained friendships that will last a lifetime,” Frieda said. “Being on this exchange helps me see things on a larger scale. It has definitely allowed my mind to expand and break the barriers that were once there. I no longer just think in terms of my own country, but the world in general.”
For Frieda, choosing a reciprocal exchange program over a typical study abroad program made the most sense financially.
“It gives you the most bang for your buck,” Frieda said. “It allows you to fully immerse yourself into a culture by staying for six months to a year and is not a financial burden because you pay the regular tuition to A&M directly instead of the university where you study abroad.”
She attends classes three days per week and devotes the remainder of her time to immersing herself in the Irish and European culture.
Frieda has noticed a positive change in her life in the few weeks she has been studying in Ireland.
“People say that you find yourself through travel,” Frieda said. “When I first started on my journey I read this quote and laughed. Now, I can’t help but recognize lots of change in myself. Since I am here with no influence from people back home, I can say that I am really finding out more about myself and what my true likes and interests are. It is an amazing feeling to know that I am here on my own, making my own decisions and experiencing the world in my own way. This experience is showing me exactly who I am.”
Frieda has been active in extra-curricular organizations, particularly in the ALEC Department. She has served as a member of the ALEC Aggie Reps, Peer Advisors and the Dr. Joe Townsend Leadership Fellows program. Frieda also works as a student worker in the department. She notes that the department greatly influenced her decision to go abroad.
“The ALEC Department has an atmosphere that really pushes you to go above and beyond and pursue your dreams,” Frieda said. “The faculty and students of this department inspire you each and every day to be more than ordinary. I owe everyone within the department a huge thank you for seeing the potential in me and allowing me to see it for myself.”
She encourages all students to consider a study abroad experience, encouraging them to cast aside any doubts or uncertainties they may have about the idea.
“Home will always be there when you get back from studying abroad, but this unique time when you have the opportunity to travel will not always be available,” Frieda said. “Do it now or regret it later.”
Frieda will return to the Texas A&M campus in January before graduating in May. She points to her time in Ireland as one of the most impactful experiences of her Aggie career.
“This is simply the icing on the cake and gives me the perfect ending to my time at A&M,” Frieda said. “This trip has reinforced the thought that being an Aggie is incredibly special and allows you to do things you never thought you could before.”
To learn more about Frieda’s adventures abroad, check out her blog.