Ireland with AQ: St. Patrick’s Day, Study Abroad, and Beyond

Photo courtesy of Summer Hickok

Story by Culture Editor Leah Ash

March is well known for the green season: not spring, but the holiday of St. Patrick’s Day. This Irish holiday is meant to commemorate Saint Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland.  Celebrated annually on March 17, this holiday is well-known for Americans celebrating Irish heritage and enjoying the festivities. 

However, it’s impossible to talk about Ireland at Aquinas College without discussing the Ireland Study Abroad program. The program was first founded in 1972 and hundreds of Aquinas students have taken part, finding the trip to be the highlight of their college career. The relationship built between Aquinas College and Tully Cross is strong and they welcome every student who comes to stay with them. 

Taking place every spring semester, students are able to immerse themselves in Irish culture. Aquinas and Irish professors work together to educate Aquinas students with classes like Contemporary Issues in Ireland, Irish Culture and Identity, as well as options for practical experience with opportunities for internships. Not to mention, fun optional electives like hiking.

Students still fall into a routine despite the fun excursions. According to current Ireland study abroad student Summer Hickok, “Most of the time my day activity is class, my internship or a hike. In the evening we’ll typically go out to the pub across the street and on weekends we go to the pub in the next town over for live Irish music.”

Hickok’s favorite excursion so far was a four day trip to the small island of Inishbofin. Time was spent writing, hiking, learning the history of the island and its sister island Inishark as well as hanging out in the pub. 

“I stayed in a cottage right on the beach and went into the ocean one morning before our hike. I finally met an Irish donkey there and saw so many lambs,” said Hickok. “The weather was constantly switching between rain and sun, but the greens and blues when the sun was shining were like nothing I’d seen before.” 

Photo by James Wheeler on

Considering studying abroad but still uncertain? “Talk to people about it- friends, family, professors,” said Hickok. “Your community can give you terrific advice, often the advice you already know and need to hear from others before you can convince yourself to take a giant leap like this. Talk to people who’ve done this kind of thing before, they’ll be the ones who tell you about all the little things you’ll gain that they don’t take the time to feature on pamphlets and flyers.”

This year to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, the study abroad students headed to the neighboring city of Clifden for the morning parade before coming back home to Tully Cross and hanging out at the pub. 

Next year, consider studying abroad in Ireland. Spend a semester immersing yourself in Irish culture, not just a single holiday.