One day, Brian Garretson, a junior double majoring in entrepreneurship management and communication, wandered into Sara Dart’s office to discuss the possibilities of studying abroad.
“I love being on campus during the year too much to leave during a semester, so I figured why not travel over the summer? I started researching places and programs and thinking outside the box, soon enough I Skyped with a coordinator and got accepted.”
Study Abroad staff helped Brian with everything from obtaining a passport to completing paperwork to travel preparation. The end result was spending 12 weeks during summer 2014, living in a flat in Dublin, Ireland, with other international students. He interned with Michael Healy-Rae, an independent politician elected into the 31st Dail Eireann as a Teachta Dala (TD) for Kerry South (similar to the position of a U.S. state senator).
The Dail (pronounced Doll) sits Tuesday through Thursday, but Brian was in the office Monday through Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., making phone calls, writing press releases and sending out emails. Working for someone in a high-ranking position was an unforgettable experience. “Michael is extremely respected,” he said. “It seemed every Irish citizen knew who he was or at least who his family was. He appears on the news a lot, has his own TV show, and even introduced me to the prime minister of Ireland.“
Brian said the highlights of studying abroad included being liberated from American norms and being challenged to learn perspectives he knew nothing about. “Michael was incredibly inspirational and motivated me to be a true go-getter just as he is. He treats his citizens well and has started to redefine what it means to be a politician.” Brian also had the opportunity to travel all over Europe to places like France, Scotland, England, The Netherlands, and Spain.
He “absolutely” recommends studying abroad. “You cannot teach the amount of experience and perspective something like this offers in the constraints of a classroom. The best conversations I had with my over-sea’s friends were often their thoughts on America. I learned an incredible amount about myself, Ireland, Europe, government … this has been one of the most significant experiences in my 21 years.”
Brian is from Cranford, New Jersey. In addition to his double major, he is minoring in leadership and public relations. He is also serving his first term as ethics officer for ASBSU and he is a member of Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity. He plans to graduate May 2016.
— By Sandy Friedly