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Spotlight on Dublin, Ireland

Marie Walsh, second from the right, and friends celebrate St. Patrick's Day in Dublin"I know Dublin better than I know D.C.," said Marie Walsh, a senior from the Fairfax area of Virginia.

Walsh, 22, spent her junior year at the University College Dublin, Ireland, studying English and Irish history. She lived with two Irish girls in an on-campus flat.

Back at UT

Today, Walsh is back at UT, finishing her degree in English and working as a peer adviser in the Programs Abroad office. Although she'd been planning for a career in publishing, she's now considering international education.

As a peer adviser, Walsh talks to students who are interested in studying abroad, giving them the inside story on what classes will be like and what life will be like in a foreign country.

A Lot Different than Being a Tourist

Although she'd traveled in France and Italy with friends before going abroad as an exchange student, Walsh said living in another country for a year was a lot different than being a tourist.

While in Ireland, she met people from all over the world. She enjoyed the food and soaked up the culture. She went to pubs and listened to Irish music and, by the time she left, she knew Irish slang and understood the local residents' inside jokes.

She used the city buses and walked a lot, getting to know Dublin inside and out. She traveled all around Ireland, visiting County Mayo, Galway, Clare, Kerry, Cork, County Meath, Westmeath, Antrim, Wicklow and Louth. She went to Belfast -- which she'd heard so much about because of the political violence there -- and learned about the friction between the Catholic and Protestant communities at the root of the problem. She even managed to squeeze in side trips to London and Paris.

"Reading from a textbook, seeing pictures is one thing," she said. "But being there brings it all home."

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