Dublin

On the beach in front of Bray Head
Bray is a quaint, compact town south of Dublin. It has a nice combination of friendly community, a freshness in the air that can only mean you’re a step away from the sea, and a darling view of Bray Head. But it’s also the home of a very special gallery called Signal Arts, where I’m interning this summer.

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Sporting the Tiger Hawk around central campus of UCD.
What would we Iowa students do without our precious syllabus week? It is the only week out of the semester where we are nurtured back into the swing of attending classes. For those students who choose to take classes during a winter or summer term, syllabus week is a false promised land. My first week at University College Dublin was still nurturing even without a full syllabus week. Here are some of the biggest lessons I learned coming into a summer program abroad without having a full week to adjust.

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Taking a "sheltered" approach to exploring Dublin before I go at it alone. (picture of me in the gazebo)
It hasn’t even been a week here in Dublin and I already feel… to be honest I don’t know how I feel. Contempt, scared, badass? Does the feeling really matter though? Everyone who goes abroad for the first time goes through a mixture of emotions that has us all reeling on our heels, grasping for holding points. For me, this trip is about pushing against the boundaries of my comfort zone, which are about as widespread as jail cell bars. This is the point in the trip where orientation has happened, I’ve explored the city with my 16 great new classmates, and I’ve gotten my bearings.

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I believe this was hour six of the eight we were on the flight.
There are firsts for everything. Whether that's a first day of college, of being away from home, of feeling at home, there's always a time you can pinpoint these moments in your life that change you. Over the next six weeks or so, I'll be experiencing an entire novella of these kinds of moments.

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Kristina McLaughlin, native of Marion and alumna of the University of Iowa ('11 B.S. political science/B.A. economics/Certificate in Sustainability) is the winner of a Rotary Global Grant Scholarship to Dublin. 
Kristina McLaughlin (B.S. political science and B.A. economics ’11), native of Marion, Iowa, is the winner of a Rotary Global Grant scholarship to Dublin.  

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Kelsey O'Donnell and two other girls pose in front of Killarney National Park in Kerry.
The majority of tourists heading to Ireland make the huge mistake of only going to Dublin. I have heard people say that they have “truly experienced” Ireland when they never even set foot out of the capital city.

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martin roper
My idea was to create the best study abroad creative writing program in the world. That sounds immodest but that was the goal, and I think we do offer an outstanding study abroad experience. It’s an undergraduate program with graduate level expectations. My secret (out now) was to always treat undergraduate students as if they were graduates. They have always done the job. I knew that the University of Iowa was considered number one in America for the writers’ workshop, and I knew we in Ireland had exceptionally talented literature and drama professors. Bringing together the best of both places made the program an instant success.

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This past summer, I studied in Dublin, Ireland, attending the Irish Writing Program with several other UI students. Between the intensive writing workshops, literature courses, and program-sponsored events, it was a wonderful experience.

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