2009 Little Wolf High School graduate, Molly A Griffin, is spending the spring semester abroad in Limerick, Ireland.
Majoring in Communications; with an emphasis in Public Relations and minor in Spanish, Griffin is partaking in an exchange program through UW-Stevens Point. “The program is a direct matriculation program, which means I am placed directly and can choose from any of the classes offered, as long as I meet the prerequisites.” Griffin adds, “Some classes correspond with classes UWSP offers and will transfer back. This way I can take classes that apply to my major at home.”
Griffin’s interest in doing a semester abroad stems from a trip she had during her high school days. “We traveled to Spain with teachers Ellen and Carey Celske. Mrs. Celske set up a home stay for my friend and me, in Madrid. We stayed with a host family that had a girl our age. From there on I knew I wanted to participate in some sort of exchange programs.” Molly goes on to say, “I chose Ireland based on my families heritage and the fact that my credits could transfer back home.”
Griffin arrived in Ireland on January 18, and has found that the best experience so far has been living on-campus and making friends. “Though I have met people here from the US and other parts of Europe, my closest friends are Irish,” she states. “Living with the Irish students has made me feel like I have really immersed myself in their culture.” Griffin goes on to say that there are many lifestyle similarities between her peers, but that Irish students seem to live a more carefree lifestyle than their American counter-parts. “They don’t worry about class as much as I do and don’t have as much everyday work as I do at home.” She adds, “Students go into town a couple times a week to various clubs, instead of hanging out at someone’s house.”
“There are definitely some educational differences,” remarks Griffin. “Classes here are called modules. A normal load consists of five modules, which are made up of lectures and tutorials. Lectures, which are not required, and notes are put on-line, while tutorials are required and are smaller classes where you get more involved.” Griffin goes on to say, “In the US, most of the time you have many tests, quizzes, projects and papers. In Ireland, most classes have one presentation or essay and then a final exam to determine your grade. It’s nice that there is less homework, but it really puts the pressure on for exams.” Griffin is quick to point out one more difference in the cultures. “When an Irish student begins college, they pick their major and only take classes pertaining to that course of study. They don’t have the popular ‘undecided’ major like students in the US.”
Classes that Molly is taking include American Literature, Cultural Studies, Irish Language, Irish Folklore and Traditional Irish Music and Dance.
“The American Literature class is the same class that I would have taken at UWSP. The Cultural Studies class my favorite. It is very interesting because it’s taught from an Irish perspective. Both of these classes count towards her major, while the other three count as general credits,” states Molly.
Griffin adds that in her music and dance class they learn about all the different styles within Ireland. While in tutorial they had to choose what they wanted to learn to do. From learning to play instruments or dance. Griffin chose dance. “I am definitely not a dancer. Everyone else seems to get it and the teacher assumes that we are all dance majors. I am starting to get the hang of it, so when I get home I will be a natural.”
Griffin, who has been fortunate enough to visit many cities throughout Ireland, in addition, she has traveled to Spain and France and will be going to Germany, Italy and England as well. “I have learned so much about the culture that I never would have learned without living here. Being in another country and traveling has also given me more confidence, which will help me in my future career. I would highly recommend a semester abroad for anyone.”‘
“The most exciting day of the year, not only for me, but the people of Ireland, was the St Patrick’s Day Celebration,” comments Griffin. “This is a National Holiday, so there is no work or school. A lot of people think that since ‘New Dublin’ (New London) is so crazy, that Ireland must be ten times better. They still have parades and enjoy themselves, but definitely not like home.”
Molly will be working on finals the first three weeks in May. She will finish May 10, and her parents will join her in Ireland on May 17, at which time they will travel together for a week, before returning to Wisconsin on May 23.
Anyone who would like to follow Molly and her travels can visit her blog at http://mollyagriffin.blogspot.com/.