Diggins, Louisa


Name: Louisa Diggins
E-mail: ldiggins@nd.edu
Location of Study: Gleann Cholm Cille, County Donegal, Ireland
Program of Study: Oideas Gael
Sponsors: Keough


A brief personal bio:

I just finished my freshman year at Notre Dame, and it has been one of the best experiences of my life. I was nervous at first as to whether or not I made the right decision, but there is not a doubt in my mind now—especially since I decided to major in Irish, which I couldn’t study in this depth at any other American university. I enjoy reading, writing, boxing, and baking, and my goal is to become a novelist.

Why this summer language abroad opportunity is important to me:

Visiting Ireland has been a dream of mine since I was young and heard my grandparents talking about the beautiful country our family is originally from. When I began pursuing the Irish Language and Literature major, this dream became even stronger; visiting Ireland would deeply enrich my studies. But with four other siblings to be put through college, I did not expect this to be feasible in the near future. When my Irish professor told me about the SLA grant, I was beyond excited. Going to Gleann Cholm Cille this summer would be a dream come true. I would make the most of every opportunity to learn the language and participate in the culture, and come back better equipped for my course of study.

What I hope to achieve as a result of this summer study abroad experience:

I hope to become conversationally proficient in Irish. Ever since I started reading about Irish history last summer, I have felt that the Irish language is not only interesting, but important to keep alive. I have truly come to love the language as I’ve studied it here at Notre Dame, but there is no replacement for being fully immersed in the language—speaking it and hearing it every day. If I can come back able to carry out a conversation without needing to search for grammar or vocabulary, I will be ecstatic!

My specific learning goals for language and intercultural learning this summer:

1. At the end of the summer, I will be able to communicate in Irish about everyday, conversational issues.
2. At the end of the summer, grammatical structures will come naturally and quickly to me.
3. At the end of the summer, I will have a solid grasp on a wide range of Irish vocabulary.
4. At the end of the summer, I will be more familiar with Irish culture and

My plan for maximizing my international language learning experience:

When I started college, my worst fear was that I would let all the amazing opportunities that college affords pass me by. So, I dove right in and tried everything that caught my interest. I’ve started boxing, gotten involved with the Catholic Worker movement, and gone to more plays than I can count. As a result, I’ve made friends, gained experiences, and grown as a person. My plan for Ireland is the same. I am going to do everything I can. I’ve already looked up Gleann Cholm Cille online, and have familiarized myself with the basic area, but what I’m looking forward to most is just exploring, seeing new places and meeting new people, getting involved with the community I’ll be living in! And the more opportunities I take to get out there and do things, the more chances I’ll get to hear the beautiful language I’m going there to study.


Reflective Journal Entry 1:

The past week has been among the most busy and amazing of my life. I’d never traveled out of North America before, so coming to Ireland was a vey new experience for me. To say I was nervous would be an understatement. When my cousins, whom I’d been staying with for a few days after arriving, dropped me off at the Dublin bus stop, I had no idea how the next month was going to go.

Well, if the past week is any indication, the rest of my time here will be awesome. The Irish I’d started to forget over the summer has come back, and I’ve learned so much more in addition to it. The classes are pretty intense, but each day, I leave knowing my grasp on the language has improved since that morning.

And outside the classroom, I have had even more wonderful experiences. From visiting a centuries-old, historic castle in Donegal to climbing to the top of a massive hill to see a holy well (which turned out to have been at the bottom all along), I have experienced more in this one week than I have in some years.

Sometimes, while I’m walking to class or eating lunch on the beach, it really strikes me just how lucky I am to be here, on this breathtaking coast, learning this beautiful language. I don’t know what the next three weeks here will bring, but I cannot wait to find out!

Reflective Journal Entry 2:

These past few weeks have been amazing. I’ve been busy almost every minute. Every morning, I grab breakfast before walking to school, then have class til five, then walk back home. I have a bit of time for dinner before walking back to school for a cultural event. Singing, dancing, poetry–it’s different every day, and it’s always cool. After that, I hang out in the town, talking to both the people I’ve met in the program and the locals. It’s tiring, but it’s awesome.

Classes have been going really well. Five hours of studying Irish every day can burn you out a bit, but at the end of every day, I know I’m better than I was at the start of it.

It makes me sad to think that I don’t have much time left here, but it will be nice to get back at home. I will definitely work hard to hold onto the Irish I’ve learned between now and when the school year starts.

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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: