I visited Ireland during my senior year of college, and I was fortunate enough to travel with a group of wonderful friends.
I was able to have this experience because of a number of factors. The largest factor was my choice in colleges. Hastings College is the only school (that I know of) to offer a month-long trip during the regular semester. There are other month-long trips offered during January (J-term), but the Irish Fellows program (which I’ll go into detail about below), is unique.
The Irish Fellows program was a collaboration between two Hastings College professors (Dr. Rob Babcock and Dr. Rich Lloyd) and Irish musician Davy Spillane. It began in 2009, and has since seen between four and eight students travel to Ireland for the month of October each year to complete individual research projects.
Why a month in the middle of the semester? Why not? It allows us the freedom of avoiding the tourist season in Ireland, and it gave us the chance to break out of our scheduled lives in the States. It has been a memorable experience for every Fellow (past and those who went after me) to whom I’ve spoken.
We each had previously decided upon our chosen research projects, and we pursued them vigorously while overseas. Along the way, as you may see in my blog posts, we had quite the time, and most of that experience is captured through my daily recollections (which were previously published on another blog but have since been transferred to this one). While in Ireland, I tried my best to give an accurate portrayal of my experiences for each day, and I “borrowed” some of my co-travelers’ photos (with their permission, of course) to best showcase that as well.