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From left, Nicole Ngoon and Lily O’Neill attended Prague University of Economics in the Czech Republic last fall.

Senior enjoys semester abroad with MCLA friends

02/25/15

C:\fakepath\Lily ONeill Lennon wall crop.jpgBusiness major Lily O’Neill ’15 of Worcester, Mass., wanted to shake things up a bit in her life so she decided to study abroad for a semester. However, she was hesitant to travel outside of the United States for the first time by herself.

As it turned out, a friend she’d met during her freshman year at MCLA was on the same page. Last fall, she and Nicole Ngoon ’15 of Quincy, Mass., embarked on an adventure in the Czech Republic, where they studied at the Prague University of Economics.

“We have been friends since freshman year, and we became a lot closer during our time abroad,” O’Neill said. “We traveled a lot together, but we also made friends who we spent time with without one another. We were able to keep a happy medium of hanging out and doing our own things.” 

While in Europe, O’Neill took the opportunity to visit six countries, in total. In addition to exploring the Czech Republic, she traveled to England. There, she visited another MCLA student and friend, Courtney Smith ’16 of Leesport, Penn., who is spending the year studying abroad at Kingston University in London.

On other trips throughout the continent, O’Neill visited Germany twice. She attended Oktoberfest and toured the Dachau concentration camp from World War II.

“I visited an old friend in Switzerland, saw the Swiss Alps and explored the capital, Bern,” she said. “I also traveled to Austria and spent a day in Vienna, and Nicole and I traveled to Budapest, Hungary, together, for a weekend trip.”

O’Neill continued, “I was very lucky to get to go to such extraordinary places and see all of the people I did!”

Her experience studying in Prague and traveling abroad was “absolutely amazing,” and more than she could have asked for, O’Neill said. As a commuter student, she took the tram to school each day.  

“Going to school in Prague was fun!” she exclaimed. “The university was beautiful.”

Initially, O’Neill considered studying in Scotland or Ireland. “But, those programs were way too expensive. I knew I wanted to be in Europe, but I was not sure where.”

When she came across the program in Prague, it immediately felt like the right fit. “It was affordable, beautiful, and the university was a renowned business school. It was perfect!” 

The experience of studying abroad was liberating for O’Neill. Not only does she feel more independent and comfortable with herself, she’s happy in her own company

“I was able to do what I wanted to do and not be so scared of others’ judgments. I began living more for myself and not for others,” she explained.

After she graduates this spring, O’Neill expects she will continue to travel.

“I do not plan to jump right into a career, however,” she explained. “I plan to hop around from job to job, doing things that interest me and search to find my passions in life that will someday lead me to a fulfilling career.”

She will miss MCLA.

“I love MCLA so much,” O’Neill said. “It has shaped me into the strong, smart, independent woman I am today, and I don't see how I could have had this experience anywhere else. I have learned so much, whether it was on this campus or in Prague.”

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