It was a code red weather warning that made Claire Campbell think of home during her student exchange in Ireland. Specifically, Canadian winters.
â€śIt snowed about 12 centimetres,â€ť said Claire, who was attending LIT in Limerick, Ireland for her student exchange at the time. â€śIt was funny because in Canada we see snow all the time but in Ireland it was almost a crisis.â€ť
Schools were closed for days, people stocked up on food, and shops struggled to keep bread and milk supplied, said Claire. But the Fleming Business Administration student, who had experienced many harsh Canadian winters, was unfazed and enjoyed her time.
â€śI had visited my friend for the weekend and we all stayed at home eating food and playing in the snow,â€ť she said. â€śWe were using sacks of coal as toboggans and every house you drove by had a snowman in the front yard. It was fun to see the Irish experience snow, but also it gave me a little taste of home.â€ť
Claire decided to travel to Ireland for the student exchange at LIT because she wanted to broaden her cultural experience and challenge herself in a different educational environment.
â€śItâ€™s important to take every opportunity that comes your way and I knew Iâ€™d regret it if I didnâ€™t,â€ť explains Claire. â€śI am extremely thankful for Fleming College and all of the amazing opportunities Iâ€™ve had.â€ť
Claire recommends the exchange because it introduces a new world of education, culture, perspectives, people and experiences. She describes it as the biggest and best decision she has ever made.
â€śThe most valuable thing Iâ€™ve gained from my experience abroad is my self-perception and independence. It takes a lot to move to a new country completely on your own,â€ť said Claire, a self-described homebody. â€śI thrive challenge and this whole experience has motivated me to step out of my comfort zone, meet new people, and try new things.â€ť
Claire moved back home after her six-month student exchange and graduated from Flemingâ€™s Business Administration program in 2019. She was employed as a Project Assistant at BWXT Nuclear Energy Canada, but dreamed of returning to Ireland to continue her education journey.
â€śIt was a very tough decision for me to quit my job, sell my car and move to the other side of the world, but I donâ€™t regret it at all,â€ť said Claire, who is now earning her Level 8 Bachelorâ€™s degree in Business Administration at the Cork Institute of Technology. â€śI believe itâ€™s extremely important to invest in your personal and professional growth, and the experience itself is priceless.â€ť
Claire describes Ireland as a beautiful country with so much to see and do, and an amazing transportation system to help you explore it. â€śThe people are friendly, the teachers are dedicated, and the culture is one-of-a-kind,â€ť she adds.
Claire plans to graduate from the Cork Institute of Technology this May and believes her educational experience in Canada and Ireland will benefit her career.
â€śI have learned an abundance of new skills and I enjoy the applied style of learning, which helped push myself out of my comfort zone,â€ť said Claire of her Fleming College experience. â€śEducational experience in both a Canadian college and an Irish institution has given me a versatile professional background.â€ť