In an ever-widening global community, more and more students are taking advantage of study abroad programs offered by universities and other organizations, using them as ways to get involved in the wider world.
One such group of students from Mercyhurst is currently attending classes in Dungarvan, Ireland, immersing themselves in the cultural experience by taking classes and trips to different areas of the island and Europe.
These students have taken the extra step in their experiences, blogging to share their experiences with friends and family back home.
Dr. Brian Reed, one of the faculty members leading the semester abroad, asked his students in his British and Irish Survey class to begin blogs to record and share their experiences in Ireland. “This group is full of energy and enthusiasm,” Reed said. “They are engaged in every aspect of the trip. They are also working very hard in classes and staying committed to learning about everything they encounter inside and outside the classroom.”
Katherine Clark, a junior at Mercyhurst, talked about the trips she has taken with the group, “Lismore Castle, the various countrysides, Cliffs of Moher, the Aran Islands, Cork, Dublin, and even a week in Paris are just a few of the breathtaking places I have been to, making this trip seem so unreal.”
Clark also said that it is hard to keep up with the blog from the amount of traveling and homework, and will sometimes jot down ideas in class or on the bus to blog about later.
“Dr. Reed takes into account our hectic schedules,” she said, “and his grading is extremely fair on our blogs as well as understanding why they get posted inconsistently.”
Elizabeth McNamara is another junior taking part in the program. “I have always loved Ireland,” McNamara said in an e-mail interview. “This gave me the opportunity I’ve always dreamed of – to live in Ireland for a certain amount of time, travel all around, and get involved with the people.”
“I heard about the Ireland program from Dr. Hosey because I was planning on studying abroad in Cork, Ireland, anyway. But while I was talking to her about it, she said that there was a program from Mercyhurst going to Ireland and all I’d have to do is apply. So I did that instead,” McNamara said.
The group has been based in Dungarvan, Ireland, during their stay, and both students and faculty are impressed with the hospitality they have received from the people there.
The point of the blogs, though, is to let the students speak of their experiences themselves, an experience best summarized by Katherine Clark: “I have had such an amazing time here in Dungarvan. It is so hard to express in words the beauty of Ireland, the excitement and adventures I’ve had, and (of course) the great classes offered while here. It has been crazy busy, but it is always worth it.”