Rachel Sabnani

Galway & Jerusalem

Majors: Science Pre Professional
Email: rsabnani@nd.edu

Why did you choose your program? The opportunity to study abroad is unique in that students get to really understand the host culture through their interactions with fellow classmates, professors, and the school they attend. I chose to study abroad in Galway because I wanted to be in a program small enough where I would get to know everyone really well and felt Galway was the perfectly sized city to do so. I chose Galway because I knew I would have the opportunity to travel extensively in Europe on the weekends, but also was off the beaten path by being in the West of Ireland, which really allowed me to get to know Irish culture. I also chose to study abroad with the Jerusalem summer program, which was an opportunity so unique to Notre Dame, I felt I had to take advantage of it during my time as an ND student. The Jerusalem program provided me with more of a challenge in culture shock and exposed me to people and places that I would never know about it if I hadn’t visited. The entire trip felt extremely surreal as the connections Notre Dame has in the area are unmatched and we were able to have some incredible experiences. Overall, I think a decision to study abroad is a decision to challenge yourself to be adventurous and learn about a culture other than your own.

Favorite story: My favorite day of study abroad was our last one, when our program was suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic and we had exactly one day left in Galway before flying home. After a tear-ridden dinner the night before, we chose to make the most of our last day in the city that had begun to feel like home for the last 2 months. We woke up early to get coffee and breakfast at our favorite cafe, walked down Quay street to get the Claddagh rings we had been dreaming about since we were accepted into the program, stopped for lunch at our local pizza place, got Dingle Sea Salt ice cream, and embarked on a Aran wool shopping spree. All 16 of us were together for most of the day, walking up and down the streets of Galway trying to fit in all of the lasts. We packed up our apartments and hit our last Irish trad (traditional music) session live at 5, then headed to our favorite restaurant for burgers, fries, goodbyes, and superlatives with our program director. We then went to the pub and finished the program where we had started. It was an incredible day, both very happy and sad, but I am forever grateful to have spent that time with my new friends soaking up every last inch of Galway.

One piece of advice: Go for it. Studying abroad is a big adventure and often changes people’s outlook on the world. It is a wonderful opportunity to expand your horizons and start becoming a global citizen. If you are ready for this sort of opportunity, go for it. Challenge yourself to go somewhere you maybe haven’t been or don’t know about because it will always be worth it. I don’t regret any of the places I’ve gone or weekend trips I’ve taken because I’ve learned with every experience and have incredible memories to boot. Go for it, embrace the adventure. Book the flight. Get on the train. Eat, drink, learn and explore the world!