Ireland is a land of mythic beauty, a green landscape of rolling hills and mighty cliffs that cannot help but inspire one with thoughts of older, simpler times. It is also a nation of great historical intrigue and cultural integrity, which has spawned some of the greatest artists, poets, and thinkers that the world has ever seen. Joining a high school program in Ireland will enable you to experience life in one of the world’s most welcoming countries, the only question is: are you ready for the adventure of a lifetime?
The island of Ireland actually consists of two different countries, Northern Ireland, a small region in the north which is a part of the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland, an independent nation which encompasses the vast majority of the island (you will learn all about the divide if you study abroad and take an Irish history course). For the purpose of this article, we will focus on high school programs in the Republic of Ireland.
For such a widely recognized country and culture, Ireland is actually very small, with a population of just over 6 million people. Dublin is the capital and largest city, carrying with it nearly a quarter of Ireland’s population. It is the primary cultural, economic, and political center of the country, and has been called home by many influential people throughout history. Equally rich in cultural fascination and global prominence, Dublin is a great place for high school programs in Ireland, for students of all interests.
Belfast, Cork, and Galway are also great cities for high school programs in Ireland, especially for those enticed by smaller urban environments. These cities have more of a quaint feeling about them than the capital, and can provide a greatly immersive experience into Irish culture.
Some high school programs in Ireland will also take you to multiple locations rather than staying in just one place. This is a great way to experience life not only in Ireland’s cities, but also in small towns and the countryside too. The island is small and easily traversed, so you will never be too far from your next destination!
High School Programs in Ireland
Many high school programs in Ireland are oriented around studying the history and culture of Ireland. From the ancient Gaelic tribes to its domination under English rule to its recent independence in the twentieth century, Ireland has a long and storied past which is rich in drama and intrigue. Cultural exploration programs for high school students will take them beyond the classroom to visit some of the most famous sites and attractions all across the country.
Some high school programs in Ireland will move beyond a general introduction to Ireland, and allow students to focus on one area of study, such as literature or creative writing, providing a more study abroad format to their time abroad. Ireland has a rich literary tradition which has spawned great authors such as Oscar Wilde, James Joyce, and C.S. Lewis. If you are interested in writing or literature, Ireland’s magnificent countryside and vibrant cities will inspire you in ways unimaginable.
Most high school programs in Ireland take place over the summer, but it is also possible to enroll full time as an exchange student at an Irish high school as well. This will take a significant degree more planning with your home school, but can be a tremendously rewarding experience. Spending a semester or even full year in Ireland learning alongside Irish students is a fantastic way to expand your comfort zone and challenge yourself academically!
Scholarships & Costs
Summer high school programs in Ireland can be expensive, due to everything this is included in packaged programs, but there are a variety of ways you can cover the costs. Fundraising at school, with friends and family, and online, are all great ways to pay for the trip. Applying for one of the many scholarships available for high school students headed to Ireland is another awesome way to reduce out of pocket costs.
Accommodation & Visas
The type of accommodations offered will vary between high school programs in Ireland. Most commonly, high school students will live with a local host family, which can be a great way to immerse in Irish culture, not to mention the family will usually take care of many basic needs. Dormitories are also sometimes available for students enrolled in full time academic high school programs in Ireland, and this too can be a fun way to live amongst students from all over the world (don’t worry parents, there will be supervision).
Ireland is part of the European Union, and as such shares a common visa policy with many other countries on the continent. Generally students coming from within the EU are allowed to study in Ireland visa-free, while students coming from outside of Europe will eventually have to attain a visa to stay for an extended period or earn academic credit. Students from some countries will only need a visa after 90 days, while others will need a visa for entry.
Benefits & Challenges
Go Green. Green is not just a color associated with Ireland. It is everywhere, from the great hills to the lowland meadows to the small villages dotted across the countryside. Ireland is one of the most scenically beautiful places in the world and will provide you with many mental snapshots to last a lifetime.
Meet the People. the Irish are a very charismatic and talkative people, and will have you making plans to return soon with their friendliness and hospitality. One of the best parts about travel is interacting with and learning from people beyond your own culture, in Ireland you will have no problem meeting new people everyday!
Explore Irish Culture. Ireland has had a profound cultural impact on the rest of the world, from its tremendously influential art and literature to the widely celebrated phenomenon of St. Patrick’s Day. Adapting to a new culture can always be challenging, but in Ireland you will find nothing but pleasant surprises which make the adjustment a breeze.