Active learning is all about engaging your senses and getting an experience! Any experience that you have while studying abroad is a learning opportunity, but I believe the best way to learn is to get out there and become involved in what you’re learning. Active learning to me is about using your senses to gain knowledge and understanding, it’s about capturing the moment you’re in and remembering the essence of it.
In my short time in Galway, I’ve learned so much about the culture, history, land and people of this country and most of this came from active learning. In my first week, we were offered a city tour from the National University of Ireland Galway (NUIG), the university that CEA students attend. This small group was given a local Irish guide and we set out for the city just as the sun was setting over the Atlantic Ocean. Although our tour guide spoke English, his heavy accent gave us a reason to fully engage our attention, really listen to what he was saying and expose ourselves to the native accent and dialogue. We began the tour at the university and walked all around the beautiful city of Galway - over bridges, along the Corrib river, across roads and through a city full of remnants from the middle ages. Walking down one of the main cobble-stoned streets of Galway, Shop Street, we heard traditional Irish music flowing from Taaffe’s, we could smell the saltwater coming from the nearby bay and got to taste the fresh baked goods and desserts from Griffin’s Bakery at the end of the tour. I discovered and retained so much about Galway in this one encounter because of the involvement. It was an experience to remember, and I always will because I was actively learning.
This is just one simple example of the many active learning experiences I’ve had since coming to Ireland. It has impacted my study abroad experience more than sitting in a classroom at home ever could. I get to read James Joyce’s Dubliners, then walk down the same streets in the book! Not only am I being educated in an amazing university such as NUIG, but I’m living and learning from the places and people around me. Studying abroad is about gaining an experience that you can only obtain through putting yourself out there, and learning from your unfamiliar surroundings. You can’t simply read about the things you learn while studying abroad, you truly have to experience it.
Anna Toman - Spring 2013 CEA MOJO in Galway, Ireland
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