FRANKLIN TWP. — When Josh Frankevich was a freshman in high school, he developed a dream to study abroad.
Nearly five years later, the 20-year-old Dallas High School graduate will depart northeast Pennsylvania for his first five-month semester at the University College in Dublin, Ireland, on Jan. 11. The semester ends May 25.
“I am so excited I can’t even articulate how it feels,” Frankevich said Jan. 5. “I’ve talked and talked about it and now it is happening. It is a dream come true.”
A second-semester sophomore at King’s College in Wilkes-Barre, Frankevich spent years preparing for the study abroad experience, which could start him on a career path in international business.
Many United States tech companies relocated their headquarters to Dublin due to the low corporate tax, Frankevich said.
“It is an international business hub,” he said, noting IBM, Google and Facebook all are based out of Dublin. “I am looking to get an internship and make connections with someone at one of these companies.”
Frankevich also expects to grow as a person and is eager to meet new people and learn different customs.
“There are about 32,000 students enrolled at the University College in Dublin,” he said. “There are about 5,000 international students. It will certainly be an interesting experience.”
As a University College student, Frankevich will have to enroll in four courses, including a class called Discovering Ireland required for first-time visitors to the country.
The other three courses are business related that will count towards his degree in Business Administration.
“It (Discovering Ireland) requires two, self-guided field trips to some of Ireland’s landmarks or historic sites,” he said. “Then, I will have to write a report about each of the trips.”
Academics is not the only thing on Frankevich’s mind.
“I want to go and stop in Spain and Italy during spring break,” he said, adding he also wants to see the Blarney Stone, Cliffs of Moher, visit the many castles and cathedrals and make at least “five real, genuine Irish friends.”
The experience comes with some hefty challenges, including Dublin’s high cost of living.
“Dublin is an expensive city to live in,” Frankevich said. “I will have to get used to budgeting.”
Frankevich compared Dublin’s cost of living to that of New York City. A single-person flat, also known as an apartment, will cost $1,000 a month, he said.
His student visa will not allow him to work while he is in Ireland.
So in preparation, he picked up extra hours at his job with igourmet.com.
Also, Frankevich applied and received a $5,000 Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship to fund the study abroad program, becoming the first King’s College student to receive a Gilman Scholarship, which is awarded by the Department of State, according to King’s College spokesman John McAndrew.
“The Gilman scholarship was a huge help,” Frankevich’s mother, Jennifer said. “I don’t know how to do it without it.”
Jennifer, a nurse at Wilkes-Barre General Hospital, believes her son’s involvement in high school, in the community and with Boy Scout Troop 281, from which he earned the rank of Eagle Scout, contributed to his eligibility to receive the scholarship.
“He traveled a lot with Troop 281, ” she said noting he went to Mount Washington in New Hampshire as well as rafted down various rivers, including the Kennebec in Maine, Hudson River in New York and the Colorado River in Colorado.
Frankevich was also president of the Dallas High School Class of 2016 for four years and completed thousands of hours of community service, she said.
“I believe these leadership skills helped him to earn the Gilman scholarship,” she said.
Another hurdle Frankevich will face is overcoming homesickness.
Dublin is nearly 3,222 miles away from his Franklin Township home, a long way from family and friends.
“Luckily, their culture has some similarities to ours,” Frankevich said. “Another concern is that I may get there and not want to come home.”
His mom will remain home during his semester abroad.
“I would like to go and visit him but I don’t know if I’ll be able to; I have to work,” she said, adding the traveling he did with the Boy Scouts helped her get used to him venturing out to explore the world.
“I am excited for him but, as a mom, I have a little anxiety,” Jennifer said. “I have been preparing him for this for years.”
She said he was always encouraged to “climb that mountain and help those people.”
Now, Jennifer’s job is to think of the things her son may forget such as making copies of his passport, acquiring health insurance, making sure his housing is in place, reminding him to go to the U.S. embassy to get a temporary visa and setting up a bank account.