Hi! My name is Lela Connors, and I am entering my senior year at UA studying chemical engineering and mathematics. This summer (2023), I am participating in UA in Ireland: Chemical Engineering (Summer I) and UA in Denmark: Unit Operations Lab (Summer II). In Ireland, I am taking CHE 413 (Honors Polymer Materials Engineering) and CHE 445 (Introduction to Biochemical Engineering) and, in Denmark, I am taking CHE 323 (Operations Laboratory). Currently, I am sitting in Boston Logan International Airport waiting for my flight to Dublin to depart.

Studying abroad was something I decided I wanted to do before I chose what college I wanted to attend or what I wanted to major in. When I was looking at UA, I was immediately interested in these two study abroad programs as there are not many opportunities to take engineering classes abroad. Furthermore, I have always had a particular interest in exploring Ireland as I have Irish ancestors.

Preparing to study abroad was a long process. I highly recommend starting early as there are many different things you must do before you leave, such as notifying credit/debit card companies that you are traveling, sorting out cell phone plans or SIM cards, booking flights and trips, and much more. Packing my actual suitcase and backpack is probably something I should have started a bit earlier, but I am notoriously a last minute packer. My biggest advice is to pack light, which means bringing a lot of clothes that are easy to layer and carefully evaluating whether or not you will actually wear/use each thing you pack.

I will admit that I am a mixture of excited, stressed, and nervous. Although I have traveled extensively within the U.S., I have never traveled outside of the U.S. This means I have no experience going through customs, using an international phone plan, flying in an airplane for 6 hours, and such. Not knowing exactly how all of these things work is probably the biggest source of my nerves and stress. However, I am still very excited to begin this experience. The activity I am most looking forward to is visiting the Cliffs of Moher in Ireland. Beyond the two programs, I have also planned a weekend trip to visit some of my friends who are studying abroad in Spain, which I am also very excited for.

As for expectations and goals, I am hoping that studying abroad this summer enables me to be immersed in many new cultures, meet many new people, and see many new places. Collectively, I think these things will give me a new perspective on life.

That is all for now! Enjoy the pictures of my parents dropping me at the airport!