GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Students at Aquinas College are getting quite the Irish experience for St. Patrick’s Day.
A group of study-abroad students is in Tully Cross, Ireland for the semester. Students and professors went to a parade filled with thousands of people in a nearby town, Clifden.
“It was fun to see the kids dressed up in costumes and they had their little leprechaun hats on and there was plenty of orange and green and white of course,” Laura Krueger said.
“That was something I was really excited to see because I do that back home in America too. It was definitely a little bit different because it’s seen as a national religious holiday so it was really cool,” she added.
Krueger is majoring in theology and philosophy at Aquinas College. She and nine other students are spending the semester in Tully Cross.
This year marks the 50th anniversary that students have been able to travel abroad to Ireland.
Professor of English and Irish studies Michelle DeRose has been directing the program for the last three years.
“I’ve developed my favorite walks and favorite sites and I know that as I’m walking these same roads that 50 years of Aquinas professors and students have seen these same sites. Some of our students are on the trip right now their parents went on the trip. There is this long-standing legacy of community and interactions that have been developed,” she said.
Though St. Patrick’s Day is the biggest holiday in Ireland, students and professors say the holiday isn’t the most memorable moment. It’s being immersed in the community daily.
“I’ve learned a lot about Irish history, Irish folklore and culture. It’s overall been a well-balanced experience,” Krueger said. “I came in with these expectations and it’s been beyond what I was expecting. Being able to witness the community has been the greatest thing. We were welcomed right into the culture.”
The students will return to Grand Rapids in mid-May. The college will have its 50th-year anniversary reunion for those who traveled to Ireland event in June.