For English and public policy double-major Stephanie Kenific ’17, the allure of Galway, Ireland was its music and literary culture.
“Galway has an incredible amount to offer in terms of culture,” she says. “Every few feet downtown, there is some musician performing covers or original work. And poetry readings take place at least once a week! It’s absolutely the best city in Ireland.”
During the fall 2015 semester — in a partnership with Union College and an ongoing affiliation with the National University of Ireland, Galway — HWS students and their Union counterparts traveled with Associate Professor of English Anna Creadick across the Emerald Isle — “north to Belfast, south to Cork, east to Dublin, and west to the Aran Islands and Kerry,” says Creadick. “We visited world heritage sites like the Giant’s Causeway and Newgrange. We had guided tours from archaeologists, medieval historians, and former political prisoners.”
“We got to travel around the entire country, which was incredible,” says Kelsey Bohl ’17, a Media & Society major and studio art minor.
For Bohl, however, the big draw of the program was the size and its community service emphasis.
“I wanted go abroad somewhere that I could be part of the community,” she says, and in Galway, she had the chance, working with Foróige, Ireland’s most successful youth organization, and their afterschool program, in one of the highlights of her semester in Ireland.
Known for its vibrant artistic and cultural atmosphere, Galway is the largest city in the West of Ireland, which has the largest concentration of Irish-speaking communities in Ireland and, for Kenific, offered a welcome immersion into the culture.
“I have learned to be more open and flexible,” she says. “It’s kind of an Irish trait. I’m more willing to talk to people I don’t know yet, but I’m also more able to move around independently. I’m a better version of myself here: more animated, more excited, more alive.”
“I’ve loved being able to learn about and travel across Ireland together,” says Creadick. “In a faculty-led program one cool thing is that I get to know students — and they get to know me — in more than just the one dimension of classroom interaction.”
The Galway study abroad program is offered each fall and spring, and provides students a unique opportunity to engage in Irish life and culture through the Colleges’ affiliation with NUIG and the program’s service-learning component.