Seán O'Boyle , February '15

Each month, Office of International Students and Scholars introduces one international student/scholar by highlighting their cultural background, personal experience in both home country and U.S. It is our hope that this mini introduction will help Lehigh community to have a better understanding of the international students and scholars on campus. We encourage every student to participate in this activity. If you would like to be featured, send your message to intnl@lehigh.edu.

1) Hi Seán, so tell me a little bit about yourself. Where are you from? What are you studying here at Lehigh? When will you be done with your studies?
Well my name is Seán O'Boyle and I was born in Galway, Ireland on 10/19/1994. I come from a farming background and have two older brothers (25 and 30). I lived in a big parish (village) called Corofin which is a 40 minute drive away from Galway City up until January 2015. I am now living in Trembley Park on the campus of Lehigh University. I am currently completing my third year of a Bachelor of Commerce International from the National University of Galway, Ireland. I love keeping fit, going to the gym and playing sport. I play Gaelic football (an Irish sport) and soccer with my local team and my home University. My biggest achievement is that I have represented Ireland in soccer at U16 and U17 level. I have worked part time for two and a half years to help fund my college studies and successfully completed a five month HR Internship with Alkermes Biopharmaceuticals last semester. I would consider myself a friendly and motivated individual.
 
I am taking 13 credits here which breaks down into 4 modules they are Introduction to Entrepreneurship (ENTP 101), Public Speaking (Com 160), Negotiations and Conflict Management (MGT328) and Introduction to Law (Law 101). Unfortunately I am only studying at Lehigh for one semester but I plan to get the most out of it! With regard my degree back in Ireland I hope to graduate next year.
National University of Galway (The Quad)
 
National University of Galway (J.E. Cairnes School of Business)
 
2) So far, what do you think about Lehigh? Do you like the campus? The faculty? The people? Your housing?
When I first had a look around the campus I couldn’t get over how beautiful the campus is (and that’s coming from a guy!). The buildings look so historic and in my opinion look way better both internally and externally than my home college back in Ireland. So needless to say the campus is brilliant except for that small detail of it being built on a mountain….. and all those steps and hills! You get used to it though. 
 
The faculty and staff that I have come into contact so far at Lehigh has been top class. From Jennifer and Stacy down in the international office to Professor McCormick (Law 101) to the friendly people who work in the food halls all round it’s been a real positive and a credit to the faculty who work here.
 
Again it is pretty similar with people. I have met so many new and friendly people and made some friends already who are great. I think that Americans/College in America is more friendly and easier to speak to than Ireland but I can’t really explain why though.
 
I am living in Trembley Park with three other lads who are all final year students and they have been great. They have answered all my silly questions and we have had a good laugh in the house too.
 
3) So in this short new journey of discovering America in terms of the culture, language, ideals, and traditions, what have you discovered or learned about the American culture?
Hmm these questions are getting trickier. The American culture is definitely different to Ireland…this might be a terrible example but I had a team meeting for one of my course recently. I arrived prepared but I didn’t bring my laptop as I normally don’t, however the rest of the team showed up with their apple macs and all of them just started working on the assignment on them I felt pretty out of place! That seems to be pretty normal to bring your laptops with you to class and meetings etc. … Language, even though I speak English there is definitely a difference between Ireland and America. I have had to be careful at times about what I say or how I say it in case I may unintentionally offend someone, as slang and common words used in Ireland mean something completely differently over here and also don’t make sense. I often have to say, reword or slow down what I have just said so I don’t look like an Idiot! With regard to American culture everything seems bigger or brighter here and also a lot of the products that we both actually have in both countries are very very different often sweeter here for whatever reason. One big cultural difference that I have just thought of is that American Colleges seem to promote sports in their college way better than in Ireland. I have just come home from a basketball game (which Lehigh won) and the support, facilities and teams are more supported, funded and of higher quality than that of colleges in Ireland. Our sports in college aren’t as well supported or promoted and the funding and money issued to the sports is definitely a lot smaller which is a pity because that is something I really love about American college and sports here!
 
4) What is the most obvious difference between American culture and the culture in your home country?
The learning system or teaching system in place at College. Ireland’s educational system and especially College system is in the Stone Age I believe. We show up for lectures or class and sit there take the information we have been given and try to remember as much of that as we can for the exam. There is very little continuous assessment or group work in a lot of the modules back home. Here in America it’s much more interactive, you are encouraged to speak, question and share your thoughts or opinions.
There are a few more areas that there are differences in but I think that will do for now.
 
5) Describe what daily life is like for you in your home country.
It depends on the day really? I never really have two days that are the same which is a good and bad thing as I do like to have some aspects as a routine. I could have college which is pretty self-explanatory, some days I might have a few hours of college and have to rush to my part time job to finish off the day. Other days might be a bit quieter but I could have training or a match. Often then we could be going out which is always great fun at home, meeting up with friends and just having a laugh. It really depends on the day. One day I could be in college another day I may have to help out on the farm at home if my dad is stuck so yeah! Always start my day though having breakfast with my Mam and Dad which is nice to take a few minutes to talk to them before the day really starts.
 
6) What are your hobbies? Interests?
Hobbies – would be sport and keeping fit. I love sport and playing matches and training it’s a great way to forget about the outside world for an hour or two and plus it’s great for your health and also a great way to make new friends and also see friends. I love meeting up with my friends too.
 
Interests – these vary from watching television, YouTube, Netflix’s and movies to keeping up with the world and local news to listening to new music. I have a real interest in Business related issues such as Industrial relation conflict and business economics.
 
7) What kinds of adventures have you been on here in the US?
Well I have already been to Las Vegas but that was a three years ago when I was young so I guess that doesn’t count. I have been to NYC and will be going again on Saturday coming. I have plans to hit Florida for spring break and am aiming to go to Washington, Philly, Baltimore and Pittsburg before the semester is over. After that I will be heading for Las Vegas again and will try to get to California before I head for home. I am going to try and make the most out of this experience as it’s a great opportunity!
 
8) What kinds of adventures have you been on in your home country?
Well Ireland is a pretty small country. I think the entire country can fit into the state of Pennsylvania. Adventures can be big or small in my opinion. I have been to the capital and seen all the ‘tourist’ things up there. I’ve been in just about every county in Ireland (there is 32 altogether). I have climbed are two highest mountains. I can’t think of many adventures as I probably don’t see them as adventures in my opinion.
 
9) What do you miss most about your home country?
I definitely miss my Family, my Nan, my two dogs and my friends. Family is very important to me and being so far away from them can be tough at times. What I miss really though is all my favorite foods and I can’t believe I am saying this but the weather too! It’s very cold here and although I love the snow it gets boring very quick. Ireland’s weather is mild and wet so that is saying a lot!
Graduating from Secondary school (aged 17)
 
10) Would you like to share one tradition that is unique and important in your country with us?
Definitely, a big tradition in Ireland is Gaelic Football which is our own Irish sport. It’s very hard to explain but it’s like a cross between soccer and rugby. There are 15 players on each team, 1 goalkeeper, 6 defenders, 2 midfielders and 6 forwards. Each has to score into the opponent’s goal. You can score a goal into the net (below the bar) which equals 3 points or you can score a point (over the bar and within two posts) which equals one point. It’s huge in Ireland and every County plays it. The game last 70 minutes, the ball is shaped like a soccer ball but made of tougher leather and the size of the pitch is 130m (metres) to 145m and width: 80m to 90m. Below is a photo of my local under 21 parish team who I play for we recently won out the county Championship. Also this link (skip to 1:05) will show you what it looks like to play football.
The Gaelic Football team Seán plays with. 
 
11) If someone was going to visit your home country, what would you tell them to do there and where would you tell them to visit?
I would tell them to stay away from Dublin and all the main tourists’ spots that you would find on the internet. Dublin is the main hub for tourism and it does have a lot to offer but if you want to see the real Ireland after all the shopping, drinking and everything else go visit Connemara in Galway, go and climb Croagh Patrick in Mayo, see the cliffs of Moher in Clare. Go to the more unknown counties like Longford, Roscommon. Go to Donegal, go witness a game of Hurling or Gaelic football first hand and see exactly what it is like to play. Really though it doesn’t matter where you go or what you see in Ireland I really believe you will enjoy your time there, unless you are coming for good weather in that case you will be extremely disappointed!
Corofin Castle (located in Seán's home village)