The opportunity to study abroad is one of the things that made me fall in love with Macalester, and then it got even better. Mac helped me find the perfect study abroad program to combine two very different majors. I first declared my music major, but after declaring a geology major, too, I was worried that no single program would allow me to make progress in both majors. I found the perfect study abroad program in Cork, Ireland, at University College Cork.
I arrived in Cork in August and began an intensive three-week pre-semester program studying musics of Ireland: traditional Irish music, the Celtic harp, classical music, contemporary music, bagpipes, rap, pop, and rock and roll. We even learned to play a little penny whistle and bodhran (traditional Irish drum)! After three weeks, I had fallen in love with Ireland’s rich music, and my real classes had not even started yet.
From September to December, I took four geology classes and sang in a Renaissance ensemble. I saw much of the country, all of which had something rich to offer—amazing geologic sights like the Cliffs of Moher and Giant’s Causeway; rich cultural sites such as the Aran Islands; and the cosmopolitan city of Dublin.
When I wasn’t on a trip, I wandered the streets of Cork, finding something new every day, from Irish music pubs to small churches that were inconspicuous on the outside and filled with incredible ancient art on the inside. In Ireland I worked toward finishing both my music and geology majors and fell in love with the music, the landscape, and the culture.
When it came time for me to leave in December, it took all of my will to step on the plane.