UA in Ireland takes students across the Irish landscape 


Piper Jourdan, Contributing Writer

This summer, The University of Alabama Education Abroad office introduced a new program called UA in Ireland. The University offers many opportunities for students to study abroad and explore exciting cultures, and this was no exception.  

Ireland native and UA instructor of geography, Mary Pitts, first proposed this idea in 2020; however, due to COVID-19, the program couldn’t make its debut until this summer.  

While there have previously been study-abroad opportunities in Ireland, this program focuses primarily on Irish geography and is led by an Ireland native. 

Geared towards geography majors but open to all majors, this program explores the Irish landscapes while offering students the chance to earn geography credits. This summer, students went on multiple excursions to different landscapes as a field study.  

Students get credit through this class through reading assigned texts before going abroad, keeping a field journal about their excursions and completing a final project. For example, one student created a video project of the experience. 

Benjamin Hand, a senior majoring in geography, said his favorite excursion was to a natural park, Glendalough — a glacial valley that Hand described as “the most beautiful thing.” 

In addition to the beautiful views, students also had the opportunity to hike paths.  

Julian Reyes, a senior majoring in geography, said his favorite part of the trip was hiking at Wicklow Mountain. 

“We started at sea level,” Reyes said. “And then you go up to over two thousand feet and then you come back down.” 

In addition to the geographical sites of Ireland, students delved into the cultural aspects. Throughout their stay in Ireland, they stayed in hotels, hostels and bed-and-breakfasts.  

In doing so, Reyes said he also experienced “hiking, sight-seeing, as well as cultural experiences” that he’ll “remember for the rest of [his] life.” 

While this program may be directed towards those majoring in geography, it is open to all students interested in learning about Ireland, its culture and its landscape.  

“The cool thing about geography is that it’s very relatable to everything even if you’ve never taken a geography class before, I think you’ll still get a lot out of it,” Hand said. 

As this past trip hosted eleven students, Pitts said there is importance in class cohesiveness throughout study-abroad trips, such as having group meals together. She said they “spent a lot of time together, but they seemed to gel really well, very quickly.” 

“I was kind of wondering if I would ever do it again … but it was fantastic,” Pitts said. “It was a great group of students.” 

This program is an in-depth exploration not only of the geographical landscape, but an immersion into an interesting culture and a unique experience. Students are able to travel to another country, learn a new culture, hike and sight-see during this new study-abroad program.   

Students can apply for study abroad programs on the Capstone International Center’s website and find out more information for the program at the Education Abroad office in B.B. Comer.