Hometown: Los Angeles, California
Studied Abroad: Trinity College Dublin, Ireland – Full Year 2016 - 2017
Concentration: Political Science
Graduation: Spring 2018
Sean’s Experience Abroad
Q: Why did you study abroad in Ireland?
A: When I first came to Brown and found out that Brown had a study abroad program in Dublin at Trinity College, I knew I wanted to go there. My father is from Ireland and moved to the United States when he was in his twenties. When I was younger, my family would spend some summers in Ireland in the countryside. I always felt a connection to the country and knew I was dual-citizen through my father. I saw the study abroad program in Dublin as an opportunity to actually get to know Ireland by living there for an extended time. Living in the capital would be a drastic change from the countryside, but also something I am more familiar with and would want, coming from Los Angeles. Trinity College is also one of the most reputable institutions in Europe. As a Political Science student, I was excited to study European politics from that perspective and the Brexit referendum before my arrival made the academic context even more valuable. I decided to study abroad for a year because I wanted to push myself to “live” abroad for a longer time than my previous summer visits. I wanted the time to make the most out of my experience in Dublin and throughout Europe. I was very glad I made that decision because it was definitely worthwhile for me.
Q: What is Dublin like?
A: Dublin is a very unique city. It is much smaller than most European capitals like London, Paris, or Madrid, but it is very energetic and full of life. At times, the main street in the city centre, O’Connell Street can feel like New York City because it is so busy. It is a very walkable city, and living on campus at Trinity, you are in the very center of everything. Walking down Grafton Street, you will always hear the sounds of buskers and around the city there are countless pubs with live music at night. There are beautiful parks, especially St. Stephen’s Green which is next to Trinity and a perfect place to sit down and read or just take a walk. Phoenix Park, the largest city park in Europe, is home to the houses of the Irish President, the US Ambassador, and also a roaming herd of deer! In Dublin, historical sites and amazing architecture are juxtaposed with a modern diverse, business and education capital. There is always somewhere to go and something to see in Dublin!
Q: What was your favorite course abroad?
A: My favorite course abroad was a seminar in the Irish Studies Department about the Troubles in Northern Ireland. It was a class of about 15 students, with two thirds of the class in their final year of a degree in Irish Studies and a handful of visiting foreign students. These contrasting perspectives and experiences made the discussions and participation very engaging and enjoyable. The seminar was taught by two of the leading Irish scholars on the subject, and rather than simply teach about the historical events of the conflict, the professors aimed to analyze the causes, consequences and narratives of the conflict intensively and from a variety of disciplines, including even art and sports. I appreciated the sentiment one of the professors emphasized, which was that it is impossible to tell history without bias or narrative. As students we were encouraged to have opinions and to make arguments using historical evidence.
Q: What do you miss about your time abroad?
A: I miss the craic! (pronounced “crack”) Irish is technically the official language of Ireland, though most people in Ireland don’t speak it at all. You will get used to seeing the language everywhere, from road signs and bus stops to the names of pubs and items on menus. One Irish word everyone learns very quickly in Ireland is craic. Craic translates generally to fun/good times with friends. It is how you would describe a night at the pub or an entertaining event. A common greeting among friends is “What’s the craic?” I love the social culture of Ireland and the Irish people. In Ireland, people love to share their enjoyment with company, their friends and even strangers. So regardless of whether you drink or not, going to the pub to spend hours talking with friends becomes a routine. I miss that atmosphere. I miss having conversations with total strangers who are genuinely interested in getting to know more about me and some of my thoughts on different topics. I miss the laughs and banter among the soccer team at Trinity. In Ireland there’s plenty of craic, and it doesn’t take long to find it.