Elizabeth Larrison always loved hearing and telling stories. When she was quite young, she realized that history was essentially the telling of others’ stories, and her interests in the subject continued to grow throughout her education. Larrison graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Platteville in 2017 as a history major and political science minor and is currently studying history in Ireland in a yearlong master’s program at the National University of Ireland-Galway. She will be completing her program in August 2021.
Larrison could not have anticipated what her experience would be like studying abroad. Ireland has been on at least a level three lockdown since she arrived in August. Since the beginning of this year, it has been at a level five lockdown, meaning everything is shut down except for essential businesses. Most retail shops are closed if they do not sell food items.
“My experience studying in Ireland is very different than I anticipated three years ago, when I decided that this was the path I wanted to pursue. I have been fortunate to have built a great support system with a couple of friends I’ve met here, but I have not had a single class on campus and will not,” said Larrison. “The campus is beautiful and the fact that my friends and I will not be able to utilize its resources is very sad and disappointing to us.”
While she was at UW-Platteville, Larrison received a lot of support from her professors. Although she is half a world away, they continue to be a support system for her on her educational journey, which helped to prepare her for the challenges of pursuing a graduate degree during a pandemic.
“As a Pioneer, I think that one of the most important lessons I learned was that with a strong support system, you can do anything. We always referred to our professors in both the history and political science departments as our cheerleaders."
“I absolutely loved my time at UW-Platteville. The History Department was amazing, and I was able to flourish and excel due to the support and encouragement the professors and staff always gave to all their students. I will always be thankful for my experiences with the History Department,” said Larrison. “As a Pioneer, I think that one of the most important lessons I learned was that with a strong support system, you can do anything. We always referred to our professors in both the history and political science departments as our cheerleaders. They were always there to listen, support and push us to achieve anything we set our sights on. I am still in contact with my past history professors and cohorts. They have become a wonderful support system during this journey.”
Larrison hopes that COVID-19 numbers continue to decline so that her friends and family who have wanted to visit her can do so soon while she’s still living in Ireland. After her program ends, she plans to either spend some time living and working in Ireland or pursuing a Ph.D., as she would love to teach history in a higher education setting someday.