Fisher in Galway Program Well Underway
The Fisher in Galway Program is halfway through its first semester, and judging from the students and their photos, they are feeling the Irish love and have settled in nicely.
Junior Aidan Evans and André Remillard, along with sophomore Katlin Shippy, are just three of the nine students who have been studying in Galway since January 7. They are the first group to participate in the College’s new study abroad program.
The new program is in partnership with Hobart and William Smith (HWS) Colleges. Students are studying at the National University of Ireland, Galway (NUIG). They were accompanied by Dr. Tim Madigan, Director of College’s Irish Studies Program, who is also teaching in Galway this semester. And while the students are definitely keeping busy with their studies, they have been enjoying all that Ireland has to offer.
The students are all enrolled in an Irish Thought class, taught my Madigan, along with an Irish Life and Culture class that incorporates Irish literature in Irish (translated for the American students) and English.
They live in a student housing complex called Gort na Coiribe, about 15 minutes from campus. The complex has apartments and townhouses, and they are rooming with other Fisher students, HWS students, and Irish students.
For Evans, this has been a great opportunity, as she has never left American soil. The Criminology major has a strong Irish heritage, and has always wanted to travel to the country. When the opportunity presented itself, she jumped on board.
And while she said that being independent in another country was a lot for her to get used to at first, having a familiar Fisher professor there with them made the adjustment easier.
In addition to the required courses, she is also taking a Political Sociology course and a separate literature course studying classic novels from the 19th and early 20th centuries. Evans said courses at Fisher and courses through NUIG are very different.
“I am in two lectures with no less than 150 students, and our professors (called lecturers in Ireland) speak with the use of microphones. There isn't really an attendance policy because it's sort of impossible to be able to keep track of that quantity of students. They operate almost completely on Blackboard, and it's very rare that a lecturer will learn your name. Also, my classes are based solely on either one essay or one final exam - very different than Fisher,” she said.
Nursing major Shippy was drawn to the program because of the planned group excursions. So far, they have traveled to Cork, Dublin, Kerry, and Northern Ireland. Shippy’s favorite outing was to the Aran Islands, near Galway.
“This was our first excursion here in Ireland and I'll never forget it. We had to go on an hour long bike ride to the top of this mountain to see this old ruin and the sites were just amazing. When we finally made it to the top of the mountain, a woman and her son who co-own a little bed and breakfast made us soup and sandwiches for lunch. It was just a really great day, amidst a land of wonder and adventure,” said Shippy. “And these excursions really promoted a greater sense of group cohesion between the Fisher and Hobart William Smith students, now we are all really close friends.”
Remillard, a junior Sport Management major, is quite well traveled. In 2008, he spent time in France, Germany, the Netherlands, and Switzerland. And in 2012, he returned to Europe making stops in France and Germany again, but adding the Czech Republic, Belgium, and the United Kingdom to his itinerary. But, his Irish heritage and yearning to connect to his roots have always made him set his sights on traveling to Ireland, and this program afforded him that chance.
“Being predominantly Irish, I wanted to know more about where my ancestors came from and what more the country had to offer other than our American stereotypes about the Irish and Ireland. It was also comforting knowing I could study abroad in a predominantly English speaking country where communication would not be an issue. And I liked the possibility of being a part of a first-time program in hopes of establishing a positive relationship between the National University of Ireland, Galway and St. John Fisher College for years to come,” said Remillard.
His favorite excursion outside of his studies has been the group’s trip to Cork and their stop at the Blarney Castle.
“The Blarney Castle was a very nice estate and castle, and also holds the Blarney Stone, which is a must do in Ireland. The city itself was architecturally appealing and the night life was very fun as well,” he said.
As for the food? All agreed that the seafood is great in Ireland, especially the fish and chips. And since their living arrangements include kitchens and they make meals for themselves most of the time, they all also agree that they miss Lackmann.
Before they return to the states in mid-May, they have more trips that they have planned on their own. Some stops on the trio’s collective list include France, England, Hungary, Austria, Germany, Scotland, Croatia, Spain, and the Netherlands.
“I would certainly recommend this Galway study abroad program to any interested in going to Ireland - it's the best city in Ireland. The city itself is very student-friendly and offers many fun activities for students to keep busy. I also recommend this program to anyone who is open to trying new things and intends on really immersing themselves into a new and different culture. The people, landscape, and culture are much different when compared to the U.S. and this new experience really provides a global perspective on things in life,” said Remillard.
The Stormont Staircase in Belfast.
The group poses with the Titanic sign outside of the Titanic Museum in Belfast.
Students stop to see the Book of Kells at Trinity College in Dublin.