Westphal gains international experience in Ireland
Westphal initially decided to study internationally in Ireland because of her strong Irish heritage. She previously traveled internationally to Spain her senior year of high school, prompting her to take the opportunity to explore more of Europe. Westphal struck out on her own and traveled to Europe. She was nervous not knowing anyone or what to expect once she arrived.
"Being in Ireland made me feel like a minority for a change. I learned more about who I am and the effects of an environment on people," said Westphal.
Westphal attended the National University of Maynooth, located about a half hour's drive outside of Dublin. She attended classes in Anglo-Irish literature, Northern Ireland sociology, sociology of modern Ireland, Celts origin and expansion and St. Patrick legend and myth.
While in Ireland, Westphal learned techniques in fencing, archery and Irish dancing.
Living in an Irish home with five other people, Westphal was a 20 minute walk from campus. She shared a home with a house-sister, Ashling, and a house-brother, Shane. Her house-parents, Frank and Ann, in the words of Westphal were, "down to earth and caring." Frank works two jobs, one with an interior design company and the other with a bus service shuttling people from the airport to Dublin. Ann works at a grocery in accounting. In addition to her Irish family, Westphal had a roommate named Deanna, who was visiting Ireland from New York.
The language spoken in Ireland was predominantly English. However, in western Ireland Gaelic was more popularly spoken and there was a noticeably thicker accent detected by Westphal.
"Traveling abroad is a real eye-opener and enhances your view of the world," said Westphal.
Studying abroad allowed Westphal the opportunity to travel to Scotland, the United Kingdom, France, Spain and Morocco. Highlights of her trip included a glimpse at Dun Aengus Fort located on the Aran Islands, experiencing Spanish dancing or Discoteca in Spain, visiting Westminster Abby and viewing Les Miserables in London and traveling to Morocco.
Westphal said that the UWP Study Abroad Office helped her to prepare for her trip by relaying handouts to her and connecting her to other students who had studied abroad. These students were then able to share their experiences and better prepare Westphal for what lie ahead.