By Natalia Asis, Secretary

Sebastian Jackson on his trip to Ireland (photo courtesy of Sebastian Jackson)

Sebastian Jackson on his trip to Ireland (photo courtesy of Sebastian Jackson)

There are many ways in which students from the University of Maine at Farmington (UMF) can take advantage of the opportunity to study abroad. One popular destination for students looking to spend a semester or a year abroad is Ireland.

The George J. Mitchell Peace Scholarship is one of the most prestigious awards available to UMF students. “It is almost a full scholarship, which is kind of unheard of,” said Lynne Eustis, Assistant Director in the Office of International Programs. “They have to show commitment to their community.” Leadership, community service and academics are the three main factors that  are examined by the committee.

One of the most recent winners of this scholarship is UMF graduate Sebastian Jackson who is currently, a part-time lecturer at UMF. Jackson spent his time in Ireland at University College Cork. The experience exposed him to a whole new culture.“[studying abroad] exposes you to a world you wouldn’t have experienced otherwise,” said Jackson. “It’s very easy to take various cultural things for granted and, if you travel elsewhere, you experience how other people think, how other people live and it gives you a really interesting perspectives of your own culture, your own environment.”

Another way for students to travel is to use a third-party provider like, senior and creative writing major, Jacqueline Rogers did. She spent last spring semester at the University of Ireland Galway. She chose Ireland not only because English is spoken there, but also she was drawn to the mystical stories of Ireland. “As a creative writing major, I like the fantasy genre,” said Rogers. “I want to take images from the places where I’ve been and create a fantastic world within it with Gremlins and fairies.”

One of the advantages of studying abroad is that students are able to learn a lot about themselves in a foreign country like Ireland. “Studying abroad has been one of the defining moments of my life,” said Rogers. “I grew up a lot as a person just by being there.”

“I think it is important to spend a significant amount of time outside of your social cultural context and, most American students don’t have second language proficiency and in that sense Ireland is a fantastic opportunity,” said Jackson.  Ireland is a great choice for students who would like the opportunity to experience a new culture in an English speaking country. “You can learn Gaelic there, but everyone speaks English; it’s very easy to get around,” said Jackson. “Regardless of what you are studying, regardless of want to do after university, I think studying abroad is a great opportunity because it is a great way to enrich your life.”