Center for International Programs

When Alec Sortino ’22 (above center) found out that his first two weeks in Cork, Ireland would be spent in quarantine, he was understandably nervous. Little did he know that he would get to learn about countries and cultures from around the world — all from the confines of his apartment. 

The communications and creative arts double major with a sports concentration is studying this semester at University College Cork where, upon arrival, exchange students were placed in quarantine apartments. Sortino was placed with six other UCC students — hailing from Australia, Finland, Canada, South Korea, and of course, Ireland. During their time together they were not only able to battle it out playing video games to pass the time, but the group discussed and shared their different cultures, foods, and traditions. To Sortino's surprise, quarantine was not only incredibly fun, but a global learning experience he will never forget. 

“For me, the true magic I have come to experience in Ireland and perhaps my favorite part about studying abroad is when I have the opportunity to share my Italian-American culture with my new friends who have never been to the United States. One of the greatest opportunities I get to do this is when my flatmates and I are cooking in the kitchen and I cook everyone an Italian dish.”

Of course, once Sortino and his new friends finished their two week quarantine, they jumped at the chance to explore Cork — kayaking and hiking nature trails, learning to dance the jig, visiting Blarney Castle — the list goes on. But, no matter where their study abroad journey takes them, the friends will always remember those two weeks in quarantine where it all started.