Madie Edwards is an US international student and undertaking a MSc Coaching Science in Sport at UCD. In this blog she shares how she ended up in Ireland and why you should consider study abroad too! Read her story…

College life before Ireland…

Before coming to Ireland, I completed my undergraduate degree at Upper Iowa University, in the small town of Fayette, Iowa. When I say small, I mean tiny, as in you can walk from one side of campus to the other in about 7 minutes (yes, it has been timed). The town is basically a thing because of the university. While it was a Division 2 school, on campus there was about 1300 people, including students, faculty, and staff. The rest of the town maybe had 1000 people in it. While this may seem absurd, it was ideal because everybody knew everybody and supported each other, it was our own mini community and it was very special. I told myself I wanted to attend a smaller undergrad, to play sports and enjoy getting to know lots of great people, then if I were to continue my education I would go on to a bigger school, to have a taste at both college lifestyles. It was probably around midway through college career that I decided I would want to continue my education, but at that point I was unsure. I got my bachelor’s degree in Exercise and Sport Studies, and I figured I would want to stay on the sports track for the future. Being an athlete all my life, and soccer being my passion, I knew I wanted to continue playing for as long as possible… (To hear about that story, you will have to wait until the next blog) but if things were not to work out, I would take a year off of school and travel the world. However, something came up and this began my journey to come here.

Finding University College Dublin

When the idea came up to come to Ireland, I realised it would be possible to study at the same time as playing sports. Originally, I was looking at IT Carlow for their Master’s program in Strength and Conditioning. However, it was only to be offered part time at this point during my search for a school (being an international student I had to become a full-time student). At first I was disappointed because I visited the school and thought it would be similar to UIU, but I am a firm believer in that everything happens for a reason. With Carlow off the list, I then researched other schools and came across University College Dublin and their Master’s program in Coaching Science in Sport. At first it was a little bit nerve-racking, seeing is I came from a tiny school, and UCD has over 30,000 students, but I continued looking into the program. Being full time, I went along with it, even though I was unsure if I even wanted to be a coach at this time. Funny enough about two days after I said I would come here and put down my deposit, I got an email from the head of the department at IT Carlow stating they were changing the strength and conditioning program to be full time and would love to have me as a student. I had to say no, but it turns out the fact that this happened was one of the best things that could have ever happened to me!

MSc Coaching Science in Sports at UCD: the modules

When I arrived for orientation and discovered the courses I would be taking, I was very happy. To do the MSc Coaching course here at UCD, you do not have to be a coach in the first place. While in my classes I have many students (most actually) that have loads of coaching experience, I have close to none, which turns out is quite all right. The course is also not based on only coaching, which makes me happy, it is quite broad, so if you choose to not be a coach, this program will be fine for you as well. If you do want to be a coach, this program will also be grand for you, too!

The way the program is set up is awesome, for classes are only Thursday nights and Fridays. This leaves the rest of the week for travel, or work, or anything else you might need/want to do. There are 6 modules you will take during this course within two semesters full-time. The first semester has the following 3 modules: Theory of Coaching, Exercise Physiology/Nutrition, and Sport Psychology. The second semester has the next 3 modules: Performance Analysis, Strength & Conditioning, and Applied Statistics. Each module is once a week (Thursday night/Friday) and 3 hours long. While it may seem like a long lecture, it is plenty for 1-week worth of class, and it goes by quickly with food/coffee breaks and interesting topics. There is plenty to learn not only from the lectures, but from guest speakers and classmates as well.

To do this program, you do not need any background in coaching, or even have any sort of sports degree. This program is for anyone who wants to learn more about sports, or coaching/teaching in general.

Why you should study abroad

I am sure you have heard many people say something along the lines of, “travel while you are young” or “go experience as much as you can, while you can”. Everyone says this because once you are older and settled down, traveling will be more challenging. Studying abroad is one of the greatest experiences you could ever have. Whether you do it during undergrad as a semester, or study for your masters for a year, or even a PhD for a few years, anyone who has the opportunity to study abroad should definitely take it. You get a new perspective on life, learn about a new culture, meet some new people, and have chances to try new things everyday.

Getting the chance to be on your own shows just how responsible you can be. You will fall in love with this country, and maybe not even want to leave! I came here for a year to study, but now am thinking of extending my research even more because I love this place so much, so anyone considering going abroad should definitely give it a chance.

Being in Ireland is the perfect gateway to traveling to the rest of Europe, for once you are here, getting to other places is so cheap. It is a super experience to make new friends and try new things, and even just get out of your comfort zone and live your live spontaneously, and adventurously. I would suggest everyone study abroad at some stage in their life, and if you want a truly, amazing experience that will change your life forever, come to UCD in Dublin, Ireland to see just what I mean.