Ireland

Photo of Elle Wignall
Elle Wignall (B.A. English ’13) studied abroad in Dublin, Ireland, as an undergraduate student at the University of Iowa. After graduation, she returned to Ireland for a nanny position in Cork, Ireland, before returning to Iowa to work as a business communications consultant at Wells Fargo in Des Moines. Below, Wignall reflects on the importance of studying abroad and the long-lasting impact it has had on her life and career.

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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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“Masterpieces of art can translate nature for us.” Though originally stated by Dr. Drew Harvell, a marine biologist and professor at Cornell University, these are the words which served as inspiration for Stanley awardee Jacquelyn Whitman, who recently utilized sculpture and ecology in her research to illustrate the anthropogenic effects humans are having on the environment.

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Hello everyone! Greetings from mystical Ireland—a land steeped in tradition and natural wonders, with Subway restaurants around every corner.

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My name is Kelsey O’Donnell and I am a fourth year student double majoring in International Studies and Anthropology. For my entire third year, I had the amazing opportunity to study abroad in Cork, Ireland. As a first-generation college student, my sisters and I are the first of our family to attend university, while I am the first of my family to travel abroad. As indicated by my choice in majors, I have always enjoyed learning about other cultures and traveling. As a first year student at Iowa, I was bombarded with information about events and opportunities.

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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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