Analysis of an Ireland Study Abroad Experience

Open Access
Hermstedt, Mikaela Lynne
Area of Honors:
Interdisciplinary in Agricultural Sciences and Plant Sciences
Bachelor of Science
Document Type:
Thesis Supervisors:
  • John Ewing, Thesis Supervisor
  • John Ewing, Honors Advisor
  • Dennis Decoteau, Honors Advisor
  • Daniel Foster, Faculty Reader
  • Study Abroad
  • Ireland
  • Horticulture
  • Agriculture
  • Semiotic Analysis
  • Embedded Course
Throughout history, education has become more global. As a result, students are increasingly beginning to study abroad for a week, a semester, a year, or even for their entire college career. Studying abroad and gaining these experiences is thought to be more than just a resume builder; it broadens the minds of the students and opens their eyes to an entirely different world. Studies have shown the impact that studying abroad has on students and what students gain from completing these experiences. While studying abroad has become a more popular component of the college experience, only 1% of the college students in the United States take advantage of these programs and partake in a study abroad experience. The objectives of this study were to determine how international experiences impact students and in what ways the experience can be improved in order to enhance their learning. HORT 499H, “Walking in the Footsteps of the Irish During the Potato Famine: Examinations of New World Crops in Old World Societies,” the basis of this research, was an embedded spring course that traveled to Ireland during the Maymester. A focus group was held on the last night in Ireland and students completed a short survey regarding their experiences. Additionally, throughout the study abroad experience, photographs were taken in order to capture all aspects of the entire trip. Upon returning to the United States, data from the focus group and survey was compiled and analyzed for similarities and compared against previously completed research. Five photographs were chosen to represent each of the five pre-determined themes. Based on the data obtained through this research, it is apparent that this experience had an overwhelming positive impact on the student participants. Study abroad experiences provide students with skills and opportunities that cannot be obtained elsewhere.