An Críoch

While I was preparing to leave Ireland, I decided to give myself some time to decompress and process my experience before I sat down to write my final blog/reflection. I wanted the opportunity to readjust myself to my regular schedule, so I could hopefully see my trip in a new light. I feel it has been a good idea, as now I can see how much my abilities have improved and how much I learned in a more overall sense. The chance to live with a native speaker, engage with the language on a daily basis, and utilize the language in a more natural setting than the classroom has greatly benefitted me. I feel much more at ease talking in Irish, and on occasion, even find myself thinking in Irish. The value of studying a language by living where it is used on a day-to-day basis in indescribable. It seems to me the only way to truly understand and learn a language is to live it, as much as that is possible. By the end of my trip, I could speak with and understand native/proficient speakers at a much higher level than when I first arrived. Additionally, I do feel that I have learned many natural Irish phrases to use; it was great to not just attempt to directly translate my English thoughts into Irish, but to try and use more organic, natural Irish ones. While I am unsure of my ability to read and write as of now, since both my course and interactions were almost exclusively verbal, I was able to understand a lot of the signage throughout the Gaeltacht areas I was in. Because this was essentially my first extended trip outside the US, it was an eye-opening experience. This was my first look at how people from other countries view both the US and the world. I got an interesting perspective on both recent history and the current political situation here and abroad. But despite the many differences I noticed, there were similarities as well. Many of us at Oideas Gael had watched the tv show Derry Girls. Since we were all in Ireland to learn Irish, it is perhaps not extremely surprising, but it was cool to see that we all enjoyed the same show. An SLA experience is definitely worthwhile, and certainly beneficial for anyone learning a language. If you can go in with an open mind and willingness to try new things, the experience will not disappoint. I will enjoy continuing to improve my Irish throughout the next two years, and while I do not yet know what I will do post-graduation, I plan to keep up with my study of Irish. The skills and confidence I have acquired will benefit in many areas in the coming years, not least during my semester abroad in Rome this coming spring. There, I will be able to utilize my skills and prioritize my experiences as to maximize my language progression with Italian. Seeing the world through a different lens will not only be an academic benefit, but also a general one. It is always good to be informed and to learn as much as one can about a given situation, so I’m excited to continue expanding my worldview.