Name: Norah Griffin
Location of Study: Donegal, Ireland
Program of Study: Oideas Gael
A brief personal bio:
Why this summer language abroad opportunity is important to me:
What I hope to achieve as a result of this summer study abroad experience:
My specific learning goals for language and intercultural learning this summer:
My plan for maximizing my international language learning experience:
Reflective Journal Entry 1:
Greetings from Gleann Cholm Cille! This first week at Oideas Gael has been incredibly busy but very rewarding. The area is beyond beautiful and we are lucky to have a beach and plenty of hills to explore. One day we even went on a three hour walk through the hills in search of the Holy Well of St. Cholm Cille. We failed to find the well, only to find out that it was actually at the beginning of our walk hiding behind some trees! I’m living with three other girls from Notre Dame and we are all enjoying each other’s company. We’ve also been lucky to meet and befriend people from all over the world who have come to learn Irish just as we have. From just one week of classes I can already tell that my language skills are improving. My vocabulary is expanding and my listening skills are definitely better than ever. Our teacher Colette did a great job gradually speaking more Irish throughout the week to get us adjusted. She also took us on a field trip to see some of the sights in nearby towns! The week culminated in a night where each class performed songs, and skits and poems. It was a great way to celebrate the end of a great first week! The upper level class did a hilarious Wizard of Oz skit in Irish. Oideas has also provided us with activities almost every night including dancing, singing, poetry, and storytelling. These have been great ways to get to know others and also become more immersed in the Irish culture.
This week has been incredible and I can’t wait to see what the next three weeks have in store for us.
Reflective Journal Entry 2:
The second week at oideas Gael provided me with great learning opportunities and some more amazing experiences. My teacher for this week definitely intimidated me at first with her quick fire questions entirely in irish. However over time, my ears adjusted and I began to recognize words and find myself understanding what she said. She did an amazing job of giving us activities that increased our vocabulary and pushed us out of our comfort zones. We had so much fun creating our weekly skit for the end of the week celebration. We were able to incorporate traditional Irish dancing and song into an amusing skit about a troll guarding a bridge on our way to Oideas Gael. This week also brought along a new batch of students to befriend. There were several students from Ireland who were around our same age and it was great to talk to them and hear about their.own experiences. Most of them had learned Irish in school so they were very advanced but they were impressed that we were even learning the language, since so many people in their own country who don’t even speak it. One of the new students was a bit disappointed that I didn’t have a thicker boston accent. We spoke a lot about their perception of Americans and the US as a whole and it was quite interesting to hear their views.
Over the weekend we took a trip to nearby Port which is an abandoned fishing village. It has an incredible rocky beach and amazing views of the Atlantic. We climbed up an insanely steep hill but it was definitely worth it for the view at the top, although I was a bit startled to find myself on the edge of a cliff. It was one of my favorite places that I’ve seen in Ireland so far! I loved watching the sheep climbing these ridiculous hills that we were clumsily struggling on. We also took a trip to Silver Strand which was incredible. It was a pretty sunny day so we decided to go in the water, which turned out to be numbingly cold, although quite refreshing! This week created more amazing memories for me to bring back to America.
Reflective Journal Entry 3:
By the third week at Oideas Gael, I definitely began to feel the strain of thinking in a different language 5 hours a day. However, despite this, it was another great week. This week we had a new teacher Louise who was incredibly nice. We started the week off with some reviewing but as the week went on she kept increasing the difficulty. She taught us a great deal of new vocab which was great because I feel as though vocab is one of my weaknesses. The activities for the week, being dancing, singing, and poetry were also great opportunities to immerse myself in the Irish culture. The concert on Friday was also great fun as our class did a skit on speed dating, sang the song “cad e sin don te sin” and performed a traditional dance. I wouldn’t consider myself a great dancer but it’s definitely entertaining! We also befriended more amazing peopl and had some great conversations about the Irish language and our reasons for studying it. For the weekend, some friends and I decided to go to Galway to meet up with another friend who we’d met during the previous weeks at Oideas. Galway was beautiful and full of life, making a nice weekend getaway and refresher before our final week. Overall week three was a great experience. I continued to learn new things about the language and I could feel myself getting better at understanding people and responding. There was one moment where the head of the program was speaking in irish and for the first time ever, I understood all of what he said.
Reflective Journal Entry 4:
The final week at Oideas was great but quite bittersweet. After a month of making the mile walk to school everyday, I realized that it was all coming to an end. This trip was an incredible learning experience. My knowledge of the Irish language increased dramatically over the last 4 weeks and I also feel as though I grew up a lot as a person during my time in Gleann Cholm Cille. This was the first time where I was truly fending for myself, and I learned a lot from it and I think that I came out of it a better person.
The classes this week were also great. There were more students this week and thus one more level so I moved up to level three, which proved to be more challenging but in a good way. We had Louise as our teacher again and we also had some very skilled new students in our class. It was great being able to work with people who had so much knowledge about the language, as I was able to learn from them. Although I struggled sometimes, I was able to learn from my mistakes. There was also great entertainment this week as the area had begun to pick up in activity with the summer season really picking up. There was great music almost every night and there was an amazing concert at Oideas which featured one of the girls who worked at the school. I also got to return to the Well of St. Cholm Cille as one of the teachers led a walk up to the area. On the walk we got to hear about some of the local folklore regarding the stories of St. Cholm Cille. Ultimately this month in Ireland has left me with a lot to reflect on. Not only did I become more skilled in the irish language, I also became more passionate about it. Being around so many other people who had such strong feelings about the language was an amazing experience. The atmosphere allowed for quick friendships that I hope to maintain in the future. It also made me realize how lucky I am to attend a school that has such a great irish program. From the other students at Oideas, I also learned about other opportunities available for students of the Irish language in the United States. My month at Oideas Gael was beyond wonderful and has left me with so much new knowledge!
Reflective Journal Entry 5:
Reflective Journal Entry 6:
Reflection on my language learning and intercultural gains:
Reflection on my summer language abroad experience overall:
How I plan to use my language and intercultural competences in the future: