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If you’re getting ready to study abroad, then this post is for you.  Yes, it does reference going to Ireland mostly, but there are some good pointers for wherever you may be headed!  Aleyse Peterson, my good friend from Augsburg College, fills us in on her preparation experience for studying abroad in Ireland in the fall of 2009.  It wasn’t as much work as she had first expected; the biggest thing on her end was acquiring a passport.

So what is getting a passport like?

According to Aleyse, it’s a simple process.  “You just go to wherever nearest to you they do passports, fill out the paperwork, and they take your picture. Then you wait for however many weeks until you receive it in the mail. For Ireland, if you are there for 90 days or less, you do not need a Visa.”

You can find applications at post offices, learning abroad centers, and on the U.S travel site.

Is there any other paperwork?

“I had paperwork for my program I was going through—one piece of which I had to have signed by a notary.” Notaries do the official verification of legal matters—in this case, financial business.

“The best part is, when I got to immigration in Ireland, the guy I got was really nice, and when I said I was from IES, he didn’t even make me show him the papers,” said Aleyse.  “If you are in the country for only 90 days or less, you don’t need a visa. Well, our program was for 110 days or something like that, so it was up to immigration if they wanted to make us go pay 150 Euros to get a Visa. About half of us had to; I got lucky and didn’t.”

What is packing like?

“It was interesting. You have to try and fit everything you will need for three and a half months into as little baggage as possible! Not easy.” Said Aleyse.  “I ended up taking two suitcases, one bigger than the other, and paying the extra for the second bag. Oh, and I had my carry on.”

Aleyse’s packing style: one bag for clothes, one bag for toiletries and other everyday items, and a carry on full of electronics—especially a digital camera!

“Everything is more expensive in Ireland than here, as it is around most of Europe, so bring what you can with you from the states. That’s just an opinion though.”

There you have it then—a few tips in preparation from an experienced traveler (did I mention she’s been to Costa Rica and a bunch of other states across the nation)!  So good luck to all you future study abroaders with getting your passport, doing any other paperwork, and deciding what to bring with you!

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My friend Aleyse Peterson, a 20-year-old theatre major, returned from Ireland in December of 2009, and she already wants to go back.  I figured it must be a pretty good place if her desire to return there is so great.  I wanted to know more (in case I ever decide to travel to Ireland), so we skyped and here’s what I found out from her:

Desiree: What made you choose Ireland for study abroad?

Aleyse: Well, it is my favorite country. I love the people, the country, the culture…pretty much everything about it.  When I found out I could study theatre in Ireland, I jumped at the chance.

Desiree: What kinds of theatre classes did you take there? What were the courses like?

Aleyse: Well, I took Devising, Movement, Voice, Acting and Irish Drama.  The first four were very physically intense, focusing on the performance side of theatre. Irish Drama was our “academic” class, the only one we actually sat in a classroom setting for.

Desiree: Which was your favorite?

Aleyse: Probably acting–although all of them had their amazing points.

Desiree: So you were fairly busy then? Did you get any time to travel around Ireland?

Aleyse: I was quite busy, but yeah, we had the weekends free.  It was our own responsibility to make travel plans if we wanted to, and we did. Read the rest of this entry »