Grace Ryan - 2013 Program Participant

Doorway in Kilmainham Jail in Ireland

Doorway in Kilmainham Goal (Kilmainham Jail).

Why did you have a desire to study abroad?

I wanted to study abroad for the opportunity to experience what it is like to live in another country and go beyond feeling like a tourist. Studying abroad was an opportunity to travel outside of Indiana and see some amazing countries that are different from my own. I wanted to be outside of my comfort zone and find a place that could feel like a second home. I also wanted to get some work experience abroad, and studying abroad with an internship component gave me this opportunity.

Why did you choose to study in Dublin?

I chose Dublin because of my family history connecting back to Ireland. The chance to live in a country that I had this tie with was particularly appealing. With its beautiful landscape and laid back culture, Dublin seemed like the perfect fit for my time abroad, and it was. 

What led you to choose IES Abroad for your study abroad program?

I chose IES Abroad because of all of the opportunities it presented. It helped me travel to Ireland, somewhere I’ve always wanted to go, and allowed me to discover what it is like to actually live there. Between my internship and classes, I was able to explore the city and engage with the Irish people living there. I especially liked the different group trips that IES facilitated, which helped me make the most of my time and enabled visits to places like Causey Farm that I wouldn’t have gotten to otherwise. 

What were your housing arrangements like in Dublin?

I lived in an apartment with three other IES Abroad students. The apartment was very modern, had a kitchen, dining table, couches, a TV, and more. The location was the best part about my accommodations, though. It was a fifteen minute walk from where I did my internship, and a ten minute walk to the IES Abroad center where I took courses – not to mention it was in the city center. Additionally, my roommates were great and all from different parts of the United States. Overall, I know I’ll never live in that nice of an apartment that far into the city center again, so it was a great experience.

Bodhrán at Causey Farms in Ireland

Holding a Bodhrán at Causey Farms.

What are some of your most memorable experiences from your time in Dublin?

Each week brought something new for me to experience and discover, and Dublin was a great city to experience music. One of my most memorable experiences involved music – the opportunity to go to the final night of Glen Hansard’s tour. Hansard is the subject of the movie Once and a native of a section of Dublin. It was amazing to feel the energy in the performance and get to be only a couple of yards away from him in the front row. 

What is the top reason you’d go back to Dublin if you were given the chance?

The laid back atmosphere of Dublin was a perfect environment for me, something I would love to go back to. The pace of life and the opportunities for travel make it even more appealing, with so many beautiful places to visit. If I got to go back, I would first go to my favorite Thai restaurant off of Grafton Street, take a DART ride up to Howth for an afternoon hike, and finish the day relaxing in St. Stephen’s Green. A combination of things like this, and the potential to explore even more, is the top reason I would want to go back to Dublin. 

Portrush, Northern Ireland

Grace and one of her roommates at Portrush, Northern Ireland.

How has studying abroad in Dublin impacted your life?

Studying abroad has done a couple of things for me, other than exposing me to other cultures and a country I would like to live in one day. Studying abroad redefined my passion. Before traveling to Dublin, I had no particular direction for what aspect of International Studies I really enjoyed. After taking two of the IES Abroad courses on the Northern Ireland conflict (Writing on the Wall and Northern Irish Troubles: 1969-1999), I realized how much there was to learn about such a recent time in Northern Ireland’s history. Ultimately, this led to helping me develop and write my undergraduate thesis on the Northern Ireland Peace Process and the documents that composed it. I believe this passion wouldn’t have been sparked in me without studying with IES.

Being in Dublin and being exposed to a sport called hurling (one of Ireland’s four national sports) also impacted one of my current hobbies. As a student since I’ve returned, I’ve joined the university’s hurling club which has been a great way to stay active and give me a connection back to Ireland.

If you could join IES Abroad again, what program would you participate in?

If given the chance, I would go on the IES Freiburg, Germany European Union Program. The opportunity to learn about the European Union would be an amazing experience, especially right in the middle of it. The field trips were one of my favorite things about studying abroad, and the field trips they offer are varied and seem like they would give a great insight into the European Union.

Carrick-A-Rede Bridge in Northern Ireland

Carrick-A-Rede Bridge in Northern Ireland.