Name: Katie Hayes
Program: Short-term program in Irish Studies in Galway, Ireland
Term Abroad: Summer before senior year
In summer 2017, I studied abroad at National University of Ireland, Galway. The program lasted a month, but I didn't come home for two.
Irish people live up to their reputation—almost everyone I met was friendly, hilarious, and full of unexpected stories. There was a joke in Galway that it is "the San Francisco of Ireland" because a lot of creative people tend to flock there.
By far, Ireland is one of the most captivating places I have ever been. Almost every weekend, we went on excursions as part of the program. The images of rolling green hills cannot capture how powerful the landscape is.
I was also there to focus on creative endeavors. Mostly, I wanted to spend time workshopping short stories and some poetry in the Creative Writing class. For a month, we did writing exercises nearly every day. The prompts were everything from "tell me about the worst job you ever had" to "a time someone talked about the good ol' days."
By the end of the summer, everyone in my creative writing class had a portfolio of work. We also were required to read something from our portfolio at an open mic night. It was only mildly terrifying, but we pulled it off.
Since I am an English major, the creative writing course fit in my program. The other course I took (Representing Ireland through Literature and Film) also counted toward my major. In one month, I gained six upper-level credit hours in English.
After the program ended, I traveled with three other students from UMSL and one student from New York that we met in the program. We went to Belfast, Glasgow, Edinburgh and London. My friends and I jokingly referred to the United States as "the colonies" and, even though the program ended in July, I didn't come back home until the middle of August.