A Semester in Ireland

My name is Morgan Sarmento, and I am a Media Arts Major with a focus in Digital Art and Technology. For my Spring semester, I got the amazing opportunity to go to Cork, Ireland which is the largest county in Ireland. I got to meet so many people while also learning about Irelands history, culture, and music. I studied some Marketing classes to help with my Global theme of Technology and Society. While taking my courses, I was able to lean some ideas about sustainability and how Ireland is an amazing example of how to be a greener country by both big and small changes.

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When I started my adventure in Ireland, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I had been prepared by different organizations and learned a lot from others who have been there before, but there is so much more to Ireland than meets the eye. The first day that I arrived I knew that it would be a great time because of my encounter with my Taxi driver. Although I couldn’t understand some of the things, he was talking about due to his thick accent I knew that he was trying hard to help me understand the layout of Cork before classes started and help me so I wouldn’t get lost in such a big city. That to me reminded me of the kindness that Montana is known for and made me feel more at home in such a strange country.

During the semester, I chose classes that would be a great way to learn about Ireland from a more academic standpoint. I took an Archeology class while I was there and learned about the history behind Ireland and how it came to be the way it is today. That class also took us on field trips to various places in Ireland that had a historic meaning. We even got to see a Tower house that was renovated in 1885 and has stone carvings of the occupant’s names and the year that the new window was put in. It gave me a sense of just how old Ireland is compared to a lot of landmarks that are considered historic in America.

One of the other courses that I took which by far was my favorite was the learning the Irish language in an Irish speaking county. This class was a week-long trip where you got to go and live in a county that only spoke the native Irish language. I was able to learn some Gaeilge while also learning some of the other aspects of Irish culture that are important its rich history like the art and music and traditional dances. I also got to do some fun activities while there as well like a 14-mile bike ride along the coast and even visited a crystal shop that made the Crystal bowl that is given to the President as a gift from Ireland.

Aside from classes meeting the people and learning about their history and daily lives was fascinating. I went to a nail salon and was able to get to know the nail tech that has lived in Cork all her life. I got to learn what she does for fun as well as learn just how different Montana and Ireland are. I had a wonderful conversation with her about the difference in temperature that it was in Montana versus the Temperature it was currently there and I also got to explain to her what a traditional fair and rodeo  was and she thought that it was interesting the tradition and that she hoped to go to America one day and see a rodeo for herself. This experience overall was amazing. I learned so much about myself in such a short period that will help me in the future. I was able to learn and grow my knowledge and it broadened my creative horizons and I was able to meet people that have now become my best friend that I wouldn’t have otherwise. I now know what it’s like to truly be on my own and how to navigate living and working and schooling in a completely unfamiliar place and the tools that I have learned to cope with that will help me in the future so that no matter where I end up in my career or life, I will be prepared knowing I can handle anything life throws my way.

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