Lady Gregory once said, “I feel more and more the time wasted that is not spent in Ireland.” She couldn’t have said it better, for not being in Ireland is torture knowing that at any moment in time people are crossing the River Liffey, others are cycling the farmlands of the Aran Islands, and the best poured Guinness in the world is at the lips of someone else.
Ireland is my home away from home, and it couldn’t have been without venturing across the Atlantic Ocean for the first time two years ago. As I sit across from Dr. Lordan of the communications department, his face lights up and his eyes come to life at the thought of returning to Ireland this summer. “I cannot wait to get back,” he says.
Dr. Lordan is credited with my first trip to Ireland, two years ago now. Along with 11 other students, I partook in his Media in Ireland course. By the time we boarded the plane back to the United States, I knew I would return to live in Ireland. And I did, for eight months this past fall. I’ll return again soon, but this time as an Irish citizen. It all began with taking that first leap of partaking in a study abroad course.
This summer, Dr. Lordan will once again return to Ireland with West Chester students. This time around, the Media in Ireland course will lead students from Limerick and Galway, in the west of Ireland, all the way to Dublin in the east.
The trip featured will be field trips of a lifetime that a tourist alone wouldn’t gain access to. Students will go to TG4’s studio–Ireland’s only television station broadcast in the Irish language. They will sit on the edge of the Cliffs of Moher, sip on a Guinness at the Guinness Storehouse, find their ancestry at Ancestry.com’s headquarters in Dublin, find out just what the words “coppers” and “pennys” mean, amongst a thousand other experiences that are priceless.
Eight students are already signed up, and there is plenty of room for more. [pullquote align=”center”]Ireland is my home away from home, and it couldn’t have been without venturing across the Atlantic Ocean for the first time two years ago.[/pullquote]
The International Department on campus is partnering with Mary Immaculate College (MIC) in Limerick. Eventually, West Chester University will exchange 12 to 16 students each year with MIC. This spring, we have on campus our first Irish student from MIC, Hollie McDonnell.
McDonnell worked with the director of MIC’s international office to determine the best school for her in the U.S. WCU very quickly rose to her No. 1 choice. While there was competition among students applying to universities that could only host one international student, McDonnell found that by being honest and expressing her strong desire to come to the States she secured her spot at WCU.
“I’m one of those people that does something 100 percent,” says McDonnell. If she was going to go to America for an extended stay, she was going to go on her own for the full semester and to the perfect college. West Chester University was a small college that focused on history, her major at MIC. Furthermore, the campus is beautiful, and Pennsylvania itself is full of early American history.
“I don’t know if I’d live in America,” she said, laughing. “I’d miss the [Irish] chocolate too much.” However, she’d definitely visit again, citing West Chester as a great location with people that have been nothing but kind and sweet to her. But Ireland is always home to McDonnell. “Níl aon tinteán mar do thinteán féin,” she says, “It’s Irish for ‘there’s no place like home.’”
According to Dr. Peter Loedel, Director of the Center for International Programs, WCU is currently “increasing the number of international students coming to WCU, and developing additional partnerships and exchange agreements such as the one in Ireland.” They are also working with the College of Education to include programs for students seeking teaching opportunities who have a stricter schedule here at WCU. “It is an exciting time to be at WCU if you are interested in study abroad or doing something international,” says Loedel.
McDonnell and Dr. Lordan emphasized the same idea, if you have the opportunity to study abroad, do it! It is the best experience one could have in their college career and there is no way to realize it without taking that leap. And who knows, maybe you’ll find your own home away from home.
If students have any questions about studying abroad, you can reach the Center for International programs on the third floor of Mitchell. To reach Dr. Lordan for inquiries on his Media in Ireland trip, email him at ELordan@wcupa.edu.
Colleen Cummings is a fourth-year student majoring in English and minoring in graphic design and journalism. She can be reached at CC763510@wcupa.edu.