Dublin, Ireland: Representing the Irish Landscape, Literature and Visual Arts
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Kat Conedera

Major: English; Community Development
Minor: Sustainability Leadership
Hometown: New Sewickley Township, PA

How did you learn about this opportunity?

I was just browsing summer study abroad opportunities in the Education Abroad Directory. I highly recommend this resource!

Tell us a little bit about your experience.

I absolutely loved traveling and studying in Ireland! This was definitely the right summer abroad trip for me. Not only did I get to see many different parts of the country, but I also met many established artists and writers from Ireland. I had workshops with three well known poets including Ireland’s version of poet laureate, Paula Meehan. We had lectures and discussions with musicians, professors, and writers. In addition, we also had the privilege of touring the studios of several very talented Irish artists. There was not a single stop that I didn’t love. However, one of my favorite parts of the trip was the homestay. My host mother was so loving and made the best food. I really made a connection with my host family, and they accepted me as one of their own.

How did this experience impact you academically?

As an English major, this experience fulfilled several degree requirements. I took two 400-level Irish literature classes and one 100-level art class. Aside from the requirements, this trip allowed me to diversify my education. I would never have had an Irish art or literature class if I hadn’t gone on this trip. Even if I did, it could never compare to actually being in Ireland and experiencing the culture. Studying Irish literature in Ireland is a very unique experience, and it really adds perspective to the work. One could read about Irish culture all day, but it would never truly make sense unless one actually experiences the culture. This experience not only gave me some fun classes, but it also allowed me to truly understand the material.

What are your career goals and plans?  How did this experience impact them?

In terms of careers, I am currently considering two different routes. The first would be to go immediately to graduate school and study to become a community planner. The other option would be to take a year off and do community development work with small rural communities in New England. Ultimately, I want to work with people to help them improve their communities both culturally and environmentally. The biggest skill in that job would be the ability to understand other people’s cultures. I will likely be working with communities that I have no ties to. In order to help them, I must understand their culture and what is important to them. Traveling to Ireland helped me broaden my horizons and gave me experience understanding other cultures. This study abroad opportunity helped me gain essential skills to work with communities outside of my own.

Traveling to Ireland helped me broaden my horizons and gave me experience understanding other cultures.

Would you recommend this experience to other Liberal Arts students?

I would definitely recommend this experience to other Liberal Arts students! I had so much fun and made valuable friendships. Not only did I get to go to Ireland, but I got to see a large portion of the country. For a summer program, I really felt like I got the full immersion experience. This is a great program for those who cannot study for a whole semester. Even the classes were fun and the professors were exceptional. I was originally unsure about the art class, as I have absolutely no art experience. However, even the art class was fun, and I discovered that I had artistic abilities that I would never have imagined. I learned so much on this trip and would recommend it to anybody interested in art, literature, or Irish culture.

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