Study abroad program gives students a taste of Ireland

The Institute for the International Education of Students (IES) is a study abroad program that provides more than 125 programs in 19 countries and 33 cities.

More than a decade ago, the Initiative to Diversify Education Abroad (IDEA) was established in order to offer “personalized support and a comprehensive list of diversity resources” to students, according to the IES Abroad website.

Students in the study abroad program were able to experience Irish culture by viewing several attractions. Photo courtesy of Alexa Coughlin

The website also added that their goal is to not only open students’ eyes to the diversity of other countries, but to also guide students to become global leaders.

IES Abroad provides six different programs, such as Trinity College Dublin, the Irish Studies program, Writer’s Program, Dublin City University, Gaiety School of Acting and the Business, Entrepreneurship and Technology program. In January 2019, IES students arrived in Dublin, Ireland, also known as the Emerald Isles.

Besides attending classes in a new institution in a different country, IES Abroad provides field trips for the students to open their eyes to new experiences.

Three IES students shared their thoughts and experiences regarding their semester-long journey.

Brenna O’Leary, a junior English and global studies major, said she is in the Irish Studies program of IES Abroad.

“I have always loved traveling, and it’s my passion,” O’Leary said. “I like that it challenges me to go out of my comfort zone, and I love experiencing new cultures.”

O’Leary said she comes from a very Irish family and wanted the opportunity to grow a personal relationship with her heritage.

She also shared her learning experience in Ireland.

“I have learned both about myself and Ireland and the rest of the world too,” O’Leary said. “I have learned how to be capable on my own, [and] I have learned how to figure out difficult situations when there are perhaps cultural differences interfering.”

O’Leary said she also received an internship for the first time in her life. “I was exposed to challenges of deadlines, stress, relationship strains and growths with peers and colleagues, and so on,” she said.

O’Leary added that her favorite part of the program has been the independence.

“I can easily get a flight for cheap to go anywhere,” she said. “To live and work on my own, [and] to travel and have meaningful experiences has been the best part for me. These things have been what are shaping me into the person I want to be: a strong, knowledgeable, culturally competent and independent woman.”

Caroline Roseman, a junior English and history major from Washington University of St. Louis, said she participates in the Trinity College Dublin program.

“I was inspired to study abroad at Trinity since it is a school with such a vast and prolific literary tradition with alumni including Bram Stoker, Jonathan Swift and Oscar Wilde,” Roseman said.

She added that she is currently taking a class on the Irish Revolution. “I did not know much about the Irish history before taking this class, and I love learning more about my new home,” Roseman said.

Roseman said her favorite part of studying abroad is how she is able to take advantage of world class museums and cultural attractions in Dublin, as well as continental Europe.

Heather Hunter, a junior English major from Indiana University, said she participates in the Writer’s Program.

“I wanted to experience more culture than I did in the United States,” Hunter shared. “Ireland has rich literary history.”

Hunter said that she learned more about types of writing than ever trough travel pieces and creative nonfiction.

“It’s also great to learn how the country approaches with its type of writing,” she said.

Hunter said her favorite part of the semester-long journey was her trip to Northern Ireland, especially Giant’s Causeway.

“It was a neat slice of Ireland,” Hunter said. “I was surprised by how the divide between Northern Ireland and Ireland how it reflects upon American society and politics.”

Hunter said she also liked getting to see different parts of the country and its beautiful landscapes.

Alexa Coughlin can be reached at

Editor’s Note: Alexa is currently participating in the study abroad program.

Author: Alexa Coughlin

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1 Comment

  1. Very interesting article by Alexa Coughlin, who, truth be told, is my granddaughter. The article captures the reason why travel, especially for young people, is both exciting and educational. It broadens a person’s perspective about life in general, and opens new vistas to pursue based on the education gained in a foreign country. I hope Alexa will write a follow-up article on her own experiences abroad.

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