Bridget Clyma


My placement:
Doing my placement in Dublin, Ireland was truly an unforgettable experience. I worked at a local secondary school there, teaching mathematics in all levels. I got to bond with my students and colleagues, and even attended a school trip, which was a blast. Some other highlights of my trip included meeting locals, traveling around Ireland and other countries in Europe, and my homestay. I formed such a close bond with my homestay hosts, which made my stay in Ireland even better than I could have hoped.

The host culture: 
Irish culture is so fun and welcoming; coming here, you’ll feel right at home! In my host school, I felt instantly welcomed. Everyone went out of their way to introduce themselves and to make sure I had the best experience possible. Outside of school, don’t be surprised if you get approached by strangers in a local pub to strike up a conversation. The Irish love storytelling and are genuinely curious about why foreigners come to Ireland. I also loved getting involved in Irish sporting culture. I am a big sports fan at home, so watching rugby or hurling games at local pubs was a big highlight.

Navigating challenges:
One of the most challenging parts about living abroad, for me, was the time difference back home. It was more difficult to chat with friends and family in the US, especially on working days. You have to be very intentional about scheduling times to talk. I also found adapting to my school’s structure and schedule challenging at the beginning. I taught 13-18 year olds while I was there, which is very different to how secondary schools in the US are. The days are all different, so keeping track of my timetables each day was difficult in the beginning.

The connections you can make through this program are truly life changing. If you’re on the fence about going, do it – you won’t be disappointed!

Professional development:
I am currently teaching in Riga, Latvia, and my time in Ireland helped so much with where I am now. This experience allowed me to dip my toe into living and working outside of the US, adapting to new cultures, and navigating a different school environment. However, even if you aren’t wanting to live abroad permanently, this program really helps you learn so much about yourself, both personally and professionally. While I loved my time student teaching in Indiana, my time in Ireland allowed me to have many opportunities that I wouldn’t have gotten back home.

Advice for future students:
My biggest piece of advice is put yourself out there. As cliche as it sounds, getting out of your comfort zone allows you to learn so much about yourself and have experiences you may not have gotten otherwise. In your school, take initiative in your own learning, so you can gain the most out of your time there. Seize all opportunities to make connections with locals and other program participants. Take the time to travel around your host country and other countries nearby, but don’t forget to explore where you are living as well. Time will fly by!

Anything else?
I am currently writing this back in Ireland at my former homestay. The connections you can make through this program are truly life changing. If you’re on the fence about going, do it—you won’t be disappointed!