By Jessica Doran
Though it may seem far less exotic than a small Micronesian island, Ireland is a country rich in history and tradition. Amanda Wiener ‘12 studied abroad at the National University of Ireland, Galway with ten other Union students and ten students from Hobart and William Smith colleges. The trip is part of the Partnership for Global Education program offered to students of both colleges.
While Kelleher spent his time in an authentic Palauan home, Wiener’s accommodations were quite different. She stayed with an assortment of both American and Irish students. She said, “Our group immediately bonded because not only did we live in the same apartment complex (Gort Na Coribe) and took most of our classes together, but we also went on five weekend trips around Ireland together.” These trips consisted of excursions to the Aran Islands, Dublin, Cork, Northern Ireland, and County Kerry. Again, in contrast to the plethora of traditional Palauan foods, Wiener found it a little more difficult to find something truly Irish to eat. “The food was okay; we never had a problem finding something good to eat, but nothing was exceptionally good unless you paid a fortune,” she commented. “We usually cooked our own food for dinner and you can make just about anything you can in the States. They put butter and mayonnaise on pretty much every food which I personally didn’t like,” she said.
Not having access to a host family to cook traditional meals, Wiener said that the restaurants they went to had some of the best food she ate as well as accommodating to American travelers.
With traveling across the beautiful green landscapes that cover Ireland, Wiener fell in love with the country as a whole, but became attached to particular aspects of the country. “Of all the trips I went on within Ireland, my favorite was the Aran Islands. We went right at the beginning of the trip so it was a great way to bond with the rest of the group and the weather was still nice,” she said. “We went on a 12 mile bike ride and and hike, and although I thought I was going to die, it was worth it in the end.”
Wiener’s favorite tourist spots were the Temple Bar, the Guiness Factory, and the Cliffs of Moher. She even fulfilled the Irish tradition of kissing the Blarney stone! Professor Doyle of the English Department was the head of the trip this year. She accompanied the students on their excursions, along with their trip guide Tom, and their bus driver Ken.
Outside of academics and scheduled program excursions, students were free to travel around Europe in smaller groups. They traveled to places such as Edinburgh, Barcelona, Brussels, and London. Students also participated in community service as part of the program, in which they got the opportunity to meet many native Irish people.
“It was the greatest four months of my life, or as the Irish would say, it was ‘grand,’” said Wiener.