This weekend, the Aran Islands, Galway, Connemarra; it makes me so happy that I choose the right program. I needed this time off to see the country, enjoy it and find solace in the stress-free environment.
CIEE is the best program I could have chosen for what I wanted to do. I have two CORE classes a week; the first six weeks is Irish History and Northern Ireland politics, and the second two weeks are Anglo-Irish Literature and Irish Culture. As a supplement to these courses, we have fieldtrips to provide hand-on learning to the information we receive in class.
Our trip to Western Ireland (Galway, Aran Islands, Connemarra, and Westport) was a historical tour of the parts of Ireland that were hit the hardest during the Great Famine. They had memorials along the highways and you can still see the impact the Famine had on this country. We were also able to see a cultural side of Ireland that I know students who attend other study abroad programs, even at DCU don’t receive.
When we stayed on the Aran Islands, there was a youth Gaelic football team staying in the hotel the same time we were. They were very enthusiastic, and very charming. They serenaded us with as many traditional Irish songs as their 10-year-old heads could remember, and encouraged us to do the same. In the end, we had the entire restaurant singing. We would sing them an traditional American song in trade for a dance, or a flute performance, or whatever skit they would provide us. Their fathers joined in, and the whole night was filled with laughing, joking, and conversation with people I never would have met just living in Dublin. (Not to mention that I would never think of booking a night in that hotel! It was beautiful, but if it wasn’t already paid for by my program, I never would have considered it!)
It was an indication of the difference between American and Irish culture. These boys and their fathers saw nothing wrong with singing and dancing with people they’ve never met in a 4 star hotel. I laughed so much and as we became comfortable with idea, we joined in as much as they did.
As much as I will always regret that I didn’t go to Trinity – or any Ivy League back home, I’m happy that the mediocrity of my studies at DCU in Ireland will not interfere with my education.