Study Abroad in Ireland connects students with history

study abroad Ireland collage of students and ireland landscape

St. Johns River State College recently resumed its study abroad program in Ireland to once again immerse students in the culture, literature and history of Ireland – lessons that, until now, only existed in the classroom.

Students attending the trip were required to enroll in Modern Irish Literature, Composition II, or World Civilization since 1600 for the summer semester.

Professors Paul Andrews and Matt Giddings said the students made numerous stops made famous for its history and literature. “Experiencing the locations in person helps them appreciate what they are reading,” Andrews said. “Traveling abroad opens their eyes to new ways of seeing the world. It’s especially useful for young people to get a sense of how other people live and to see another kind of natural beauty they won’t forget.”

The itinerary  included:

  • Hill of Tara-  where the High Kings of Ireland were coronated
  • Loughcrew - a 5,500-year-old Neolithic passage tomb complex
  • Dublin’s National Museum with incredible artifacts of Celtic society such as gold broaches, religious art, bog bodies, and a well-preserved Viking longboat
  • Sligo and Lough Gill - a boat ride with the poetry of W.B. Yeats
  • Rock of Cashel - a ninth century monastery
  • Sheepdog demonstrations at Killary Fjord, and more!

SJR State student Julia Kuehmeier appreciated how Ireland “is peppered with towers, churches and monasteries, some abandoned and others not. Everywhere you go there is some historic landmark to connect you with the past,” she said. “You can be in the middle of Dublin, but in an hour or less, you can be in the middle of nowhere walking ruins that date back to before the time of Christ.”

As a student, Kuehmeier said she was influenced by Ireland’s rich literary history.  “It helped me to be more dedicated and creative in my writing. I also have a new respect for Irish history,” she said.

Student Grace Rodriguez said getting to travel to Ireland was a truly eye-opening experience.

“Seeing a large mixture of other cultures, cuisines, and beautiful landscapes was an amazing opportunity for students in general just to get outside the bubble of our everyday life,” she said “My favorite parts of the trip were getting to see the cliffs of Moher, getting to hold baby sheep, seeing live traditional Irish music, and connecting with the other SJR students as we experience a new country together! I am so thankful to SJR for bringing back this program as it forces students to put aside what they know and open their mind to the lives of those all around the world.”