Two Tusculum College students are well into their fall semester, but not at the Greeneville campus. Instead, Haylee Reed and Kristen Wiggins are taking classes at universities in Ireland.
Reed, a senior biology major from Winchester, is attending the University of Ulster in Colerain, Ireland, and Wiggins, a sophomore history major from Johnson City, is attending Queens University in Belfast, Ireland, through the Irish-American Scholars Program supported by Tusculum College.
The Irish-American Scholars Program is designed to promote an understanding of Northern Ireland culture and religion.
“I’ve always wanted to study abroad and I love to travel and see new cultures,” said Wiggins. “I went to Barcelona a year ago with Tusculum College, and it was amazing. Ronda Gentry recommended me to the Irish-American Scholars Program, which is why I went to Ireland.”
She added that her month in Ireland has been the best of her life. “The Irish people are phenomenally nice and Belfast, even though it’s a city, is quiet and feels like home. Queens University is absolutely amazing, and I’m seriously considering coming back for graduate school now. The academic side of being here is much less intimidating than I initially thought and easy to adjust to.”
She said she would highly recommend the program to anyone interested in study abroad. “It gives you the opportunity to go on so many adventures and branch outside of your comfort zone like you wouldn’t at home. I never knew adjusting to living in a different country could be so easy.”
Wiggins is blogging about her experience at
Reed reported that her courses are going very well so far and there is always much to do in Northern Ireland. “If my classes don’t keep me busy then my weekend trips around the rest of the U.K. sure do,” she said. “My courses here include a lot of hands-on learning and field excursions to many historical places in Northern Ireland like the Giant’s Causeway. There are also many cultural events always happening at and around campus so it’s a very encompassing place to be.”
She agreed that study abroad is an exceptional opportunity. “I truly love the opportunity I’ve gotten to study abroad here, and I encourage anyone else to give study abroad the chance, if not to Northern Ireland, then somewhere else just as amazing, if that is possible. It’s just great craic!” (“Craic” is Irish slang for a great time.)
Studying abroad offers Tusculum students the ability to experience a culture and educational system outside their own, according to Rev. Dr. Ronda Gentry, director of the Center for Civic Advancement at Tusculum College.
“In an increasingly global society it is important for Tusculum students to be aware of and have experience with other cultures and know how to work with and relate to diverse groups. Employers are seeking students who not only have global awareness but global experience. By studying abroad our students are better prepared professionally for their future. Further, our students learn more about themselves, their chosen field of study, and the global community. I highly encourage students to study abroad, as they will not only be better prepared for the work-force, but they will be better engaged and informed world citizens.”