BY Claire McNamara
On Sept. 30, Sacred Heart held an information session in the Martire Center regarding SHU in Dingle. According to Sacred Heart’s website, “SHU in Dingle is an immersive Irish Studies program in the heart of the Irish-speaking Dingle Gaeltacht region.”
Students have the option of going for a two-week program or a full semester of the academic year. For the short-term program, Dingle is offered during winter break, May and both summer sessions, as well as a pre-fall program in August.
Mikayla Amato, a junior, said, “I did the past spring semester in Dingle and it was the best time ever. Dingle ended up feeling like a second home and I didn’t really ever want to leave.”
The school offers programs in biology, communication and media arts, criminal justice, exercise science, health science, history, liberal arts, nursing, social work, and tourism and marketing.
Junior Paige Larkin went to Dingle last spring for the semester.
“Dingle is a part of Ireland where it’s still pure Irish culture. Most people there speak Gaelic, whereas it’s not spoken as much in other parts of the country,” said Larkin. “Going abroad, you get to travel to other countries too. You get to see so much. The school provides two excursions during a semester trip. One weekend it’s a London excursion, the other weekend we went to Galway.”
Students can familiarize themselves with Dingle’s culture by going out to eat as well as traveling around outside the campus.
“For lunch, we don’t have a cafeteria, so you go out onto town, go to the pubs, get lunch or a sandwich at the grocery store,” said Amato. “They use euros there but SHU provides you with a meal plan if you’re there for a semester. You get lunch and dinner vouchers; you get to use those at different local restaurants and stuff. You can use them at the grocery store, too; it’s basically like your cash.”
There are many pubs, restaurants and bars to check out around campus: Murphy’s Pub, John Benny Moriarty’s, McCarthy’s Pub, Paul Geaney’s Bar, The Global Village, Doyle’s Seafood Restaurant, O’Sullivan’s Courthouse Pub, The Mighty Sessions, and one of the oldest pubs, O’Flaherty’s.
“The whole town is basically your campus. You don’t have a quad or anything like that, so you literally are immersed in the culture and the town,” said Larkin.
Gerry McCloghry is an adjunct professor at Sacred Heart who taught at the two-week summer session in Dingle last year.
“Dingle is an opportunity to meet new people and new cultures. It’s a way to experience it first-hand. So, in a lot of these classes, professors will take students on site trips related to what they are studying,” said McCloghry. “There are a lot of group tours, The Blasket Islands and a number of other places and there’s plenty of other activities to keep everyone busy and to keep their interest up too.”
Students can also take part in activities around town and outside campus like cycling, golfing, horse riding, Irish dancing and singing, surfing and many others.
“Studying abroad helps students look at things from a different perspective,” said Larkin. “You learn a lot about yourself and what you are capable of when you go abroad. You have to adapt to the culture there and adapt to the culture when you get back. I thought that was a big thing, coming back to the United States after being away for a while. There wasn’t much of a culture shock when I got there, more of one when I came back.”
Students learn about the history and traditions of Ireland. For example, the well-known bottlenose dolphin who has lived in the Dingle Bay since 1983, who locals named Fungie. Students can also visit famous churches and experience traditional Irish music to learn more about the culture around them while they are there.
“SHU in Dingle is an opportunity to explore something new,” Amato said. “I’ve realized that everything is so much bigger than just our campus at Sacred Heart, there is so much more to explore, there are so many different kinds of people and places out there.”