Reflective Essay

I was always excited for this trip, but I didn’t exactly know what to expect. I certainly expected to enjoy the non academic aspects of the trip, like the scenery, sight-seeing and pub culture, and I absolutely did. However, I was much more uncertain about what to expect from the academic part of the course. Ultimately, I ended up enjoying these parts of the trip as well. The relatively relaxed style of Drs. Cope and Doggett’s lectures was excellent. It never felt as though the almost vacation-like part of our trip was interrupted by their teaching; the lectures flowed very nicely with the trip because they were so relevant to whatever we were seeing or doing on any given day. For this reason, the lectures were more enjoyable than they otherwise might have been. One example was Dr. Doggett’s lecture on Riders to the Sea, which he gave while we were sitting on the rocks on the Doolin coast looking at the Aran Islands where the play is set. Lectures during city tours were similarly very interesting. We could have learned about these historical locations in a classroom in Geneseo, but it adds an entire new perspective to learn about them in person, in the locations. Visiting the pubs that Farrington visited in “Counterparts” was probably the most fun example of this. Learning about the Troubles on location in Derry was also extremely beneficial. It is easy to hear about these acts of violence and automatically distance yourself from them. The Bogside mural tour with Tom, one of the artists, helped put into perspective the conflicts. Listening to a man tell me stories about how he was personally affected by the troubles, how his friends and family members were killed, really underlined the human element of the Troubles.

The Yeats Summer School was an interesting experience. I enjoyed the opportunity to learn about certain Yeats topics in a very in-depth way in the seminars, but some of the lectures fell a bit short for me. Several of them discussed, in addition to Yeats, other authors and poets with whom I was much less familiar. For this reason and others, a good number of the lectures went over my head. However, the seminars I participated in were excellent. Meg Harper’s seminar on Yeats’s Vision was particularly valuable because it dealt with a topic so complicated that I would probably never have been able to study it on my own. Joe Valente’s seminar, “Mad Yeats,” was a little less cohesive, but equally valuable. Valente’s commentary on some of Yeats’s less popular poems was very interesting (as was Valente himself).

The Irish culture was actually very much like I expected it to be. Everyone has this image of Irish culture that they get from St. Patrick’s day festivities, but no one really expects Ireland to be like that. Ultimately, I found the scenery and landscapes to be stunning, the food and drink to be delicious, the history to be fascinating, and the people to be some of the most friendly I have ever met. We struck up a conversation with a man in a pub in Clifden, and after a few minutes he was speaking to us like he had known us for years.  We ended up having an excelling night spending hours hanging out with this guy we had just met. Every single person I met in Sligo was delightful. I interviewed a man working in a Cafe that I had frequented and I got the feeling that he was honestly happy to talk to me. Between everything I learned, the amazing scenery and historical sights that I saw, and the wonderfully friendly people I met, I would absolutely go on this trip again, and recommend visiting Ireland to everyone I know.

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