A group of 26 Mercyhurst students who are spending spring semester in Dungarvan, Ireland, arrived last week and began classes Monday.
Students are accompanied by Heidi Hosey, Ph.D., director of the Faculty-led Study Abroad Program and Professor David Grabelski, Chair and Assistant Professor of the Department of Intelligence Studies, with his wife, Kitty. Grabelski will be teaching Strategic Comparative Analysis, one of the five core classes offered to students on the trip.
The other four classes are Health Security and Civic Responsibility, taught by David Dausey, Ph.D., Dean of the School of Health Professions and Public Heath, and Chair and professor of the Public Health Department; Ethics, taught by Jay Starliper, Ph.D., a graduate of Mercyhurst and Catholic University of America; Irish and European Musical Traditions, taught by Eimear Reidy, a master of music who plays for Irish symphonies; and Indigenous Literary Traditions, taught by Marnie Sullivan, Ph.D., Mercyhurst professor of English.
Dausey said he hopes the students focus on experiencing a different culture.
“For me it’s the cultural immersion,” said Dausey. “Getting to identify with different people and understanding more the global community we all live in and seeing things from a different lens.”
Shannon Gilmore, junior Hospitality Management major with a concentration in Food and Beverage, will be interning at Merry’s Gastro Pub in Dungarvan during the semester. According to Gilmore, she will be serving drinks and socializing with customers at the bar and assisting the chef prepare food.
“It’s a traditional Irish bar. I’m very excited to be able to experience and provide Irish hospitality being that it is much different than American hospitality,” Gilmore said.
In addition to their studies, students also have the opportunity to get involved in community sports and activities, such as cross country running, rugby, hiking, horseback riding, sailing and community theater. These opportunities are organized by Gerty Murphy, who performs student services, and Joe O’Flaherty, who acts as logistics director for Mercyhurst in Ireland.
Caitlin O’Donnell, a junior Public Health major, said she is enjoying the experience.
“It’s nice to be in an atmosphere where the weather is above the negatives,” said O’Donnell. “The people here are very friendly. Everyone is so welcoming. “
Over the course of their 10-week stay, the group will take weekend trips to Dublin, West Ireland, and a five-day excursion to Paris, France in March. They also have the chance to travel on their own during free weekends and a period at the end of the term before they return to the U.S.