Craic (pronounced crack) is a term in Irish culture that is used to describe having a good time.
“Everyone’s favorite thing to say in Ireland is ‘what’s the craic,’ Madyson Ray said. “If you’re having proper craic, that means you’re having a really good time.”
Ray was one of 25 Midland University students who got a lesson in craic during their trip to Dublin, Ireland, in May as part of Midland’s Dr. Leo H. Kirchhoff Study Away program. Students were offered two courses (Tourism Marketing and Cultural Immersion) for which they received credit for as part of the program.
It was Midland’s first Study Away excursion outside of the United States since 2019. For Ray and the other students, it was a chance to view the world from a different perspective. “It was a great opportunity to see things I’ve never seen before,” Ray, a senior from Blair, Nebraska, said. “I was so interested in their culture and how they live differently than us. Everything about their country, from their food to their nightlife, is so different.”
Megan Nielsen, Dean for the Luther College of Arts & Sciences, and Nick Schreck, Director of Undergraduate Business, accompanied the students on the trip. They both agreed that exposing students to new places and cultures is valuable in the learning process. “Most of these students had never been out of the country, so they were eager to absorb a new culture and are already talking about traveling again,” Nielsen said. “You can’t experience that culture until you go there. I think it opened their eyes to a different world.”
“Getting these students on site and seeing them living and breathing as the Irish people do was pretty neat,” Schreck said. “It’s one thing to meet a person from another country, but having the opportunity to immerse yourself in that culture sticks with you differently.”
Students visited several places, mostly around the Dublin area, including the Cliffs of Moher, the EPIC Irish Emigration Museum, the Irish Rock and Roll Museum Experience, Kilmainham Gaol Prison, Trinity College, Book of Kells, and the Guinness Storehouse.
Ray said the trip was an eye-opening experience and granted her, and her classmates, the opportunity to explore a new way of life. “It’s so valuable to learn about the history of another country, learn about the different people, and see how they live life,” she said. “You see things from a different perspective, and it takes you out of your comfort zone.”
Learning outside the classroom can be vital to a student’s development, and Schreck believes this was an opportunity for students to engage themselves in a unique setting. “I’ve taught several of these students, but you only see them in a classroom setting, where you only talk about certain things and behave a certain way,” he said. “We had a long layover in Chicago, and it gave us an opportunity to talk about different things. On our fifth day of the trip, we competed in some Gaelic Games, and the students had no problem competing against us and beating us. But it was such an important moment to have because you feel like the students were being themselves. I think we had as much fun as the students.”
Even more important was seeing students interact with each other outside of a campus environment. “The students got to know each other on the bus rides and venturing around the city, and to me, that was more special than any scenery I saw,” Schreck said. “These moments never get old for me. The interactions that happen beyond the classroom are so impactful and memorable. This was a wonderful experience for me, and I will always remember this group of students because of how well they meshed together.”
The Study Away program will offer two trips in 2024 with ventures planned to Puerto Rico and Sicily, Italy. Nielsen hopes students will continue to take advantage of the chance to see and experience new things. “You will never regret going,” she said. “Take advantage of the opportunities you have as a college student before you are tied down with things that won’t allow you the freedom to go.”
Ray said she is already considering making the trip to Italy and would encourage other students to venture overseas as well. “This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” she said. “You get to meet different people and learn different things, and it’s always amazing to experience something new.”
The Puerto Rico trip is planned for May 10-21, 2024 while the Sicily, Italy trip is set for May 21-28, 2024. For more information, visit midlandu.edu/studyaway.