There Were 21 Students from Plymouth

March, 2005

This fall, 21 first-year students from PSU spent their first semester adjusting to college life. They adapted to cooking their own meals, the habits of housemates, rigorous classes and lots of late nights spent studying or hanging out with new friends. For this group of students though, the scenery was a little different. Instead of looking out their dorm room window toward the Rounds Hall clock tower, they saw the banks of the Shannon River and the ancient city of Limerick, Ireland.

Plymouth State University has embarked on a new partnership with the University of Limerick to offer a study abroad opportunity to incoming first-year students. Each year, a small group of new students will spend their first semester of college in Ireland, advised by a PSU faculty member. While at Limerick, students will complete two courses taught by the PSU professor (including First Year Seminar) and two or three classes from the extensive curriculum offered by the University of Limerick. They will also have the opportunity to participate in field trips to Irish landmarks and live in University housing with other international students.

The University of Limerick, a campus of about 10,000 students, is known throughout Ireland for its innovative classes and high academic standards. Many courses are taught lecture-style with a single exam or paper at the end of the semester. Students enrolled in the Limerick exchange must be able to adapt to that style of academic work.

“We were hoping the program would inspire students to think in a global way,” explains Debra Regan, the program’s director.

Dr. Ken Heuser, professor of education, accompanied this fall’s study abroad students to Limerick. Both he and the students had to adapt to being away from home.

“The Irish are very generous and hospitable, and they freely shared their rich culture with us,” Heuser says. This culture was the focus of the First Year Seminar he taught. Students examined the topic of resiliency as they read Angela’s Ashes, a book set in Limerick City, or studied the Irish potato famines of the 19th century.

Adds Heuser, “The students also confronted the issue of resiliency on a day-to-day basis as they lived and studied abroad in another country different from their own.”— Kristin Proulx Jarvis

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