Student Ambassador and Division 1 athlete Courtney Cecere has encountered the most amazing opportunities during her study abroad experience! She has been able to play collegiate basketball with space to live a life she never even dreamed off…


Growing up I thought I would be the kind of person to stay close to home, be with my family, and just enjoy life in my small town in central Pennsylvania, USA. Looking back now, I could not have been more wrong! As a 2021 graduate of Seton Hill University in Greensburg, I decided to take my education a step further and apply for masters degree programs, but never did I think I would end up in Galway, Ireland! 


 NUIG Mystics 

I grew up an athlete and eventually had the amazing opportunity to play basketball at the collegiate Division II level in the States. Through outside connections and my athletic abilities, I was given the opportunity to play basketball in Ireland at the National League, Division I level for the NUIG Mystics while being on scholarship through the Sports Changes Life Victory Scholar! This opportunity gave me a chance to live a life that I never even dreamed of, and I am so glad it all fell into place. 

Delighted to be in Galway (photo: Courtney)


First impressions of Galway

I arrived in Ireland bright and early at the beginning of the 2021-2022 academic school year. As nervous as I was, I could not have picked a better place to step outside of my comfort zone. Each person I talked to or interacted with just at the airport alone was abundantly helpful to getting me where I needed to be. A few hours later, I stepped out of the car into the streets of the Galway city centre which were flooded with people, live musical performers, and more. Being raised in the country, this was not something that I typically experienced in the States, which caused it to be a bit overwhelming at first. The busy streets grew on me quickly and have given me ample opportunities to experience Irish life. From dancing in the streets of Galway, to enjoying live music in a pub, the city centre has proven to be one of the most inviting places for international students to enjoy their time here in Ireland. 


My programme

Soaking up all of the beautiful landmarks (photo: Courtney)

On top of the wonderful culture of Galway, the academics could not have suited better for my future. I am currently studying at the National University of Ireland in Galway (NUIG) where I am obtaining my master’s degree in Digital Marketing. Proving to be nothing short of outstanding, the education has also been significantly challenging, however, in the best way. My initial thoughts of a master’s degree consisted of studying the same materials as in my undergraduate career, just with a little more depth. Although this may be true for some aspects of the course, it has done nothing but enhance my education by providing new learning opportunities through each module as well as within societies on campus and the career development centre. The challenges that I encountered during my course have pushed me to learn new topics, tools, and approaches to the digital marketing atmosphere. It’s quite refreshing to know that I work hard on assignments and projects that pertain to my future goals


Immersing myself in Irish life!

Initially, I have always thought of Ireland as extremely cold with the country being so much closer to the arctic than Pennsylvania. Yes, the wind blows, and it does rain, but it’s not nearly as chilly as some central Pennsylvania winters

Exploring Galway’s green natural beauty (photo: Courtney)

with several inches of snow! Despite the rapidly changing weather conditions, the country is always glowing green with many opportunities to enjoy the day outside. What’s even better about Ireland is that no one seems to mind the weather, they are always ready to enjoy the day or night. With the ocean and the city centre so close to NUI Galway, there’s no doubt that Galway is one of the liveliest places in Ireland for international students to immerse themselves into Irish culture. 

Luckily, I have been able to take this educational opportunity and turn it into a life experience through the combination of travel, athletics, and education! Being able to fully engage in a culture that I knew next to nothing about has been eye-opening to what I’ve been uneducated on. To learn and grow in a new and challenging environment has been my most influential life experience to date and I am so glad that I made the decision to further my education in Ireland.  


Courtney is pursuing a MSc in Digital Marketing at NUI Galway