UNK students share the experience of a study abroad trip to Ireland

Kearney, Neb. (Press release) – Carly Fortune can describe her recent trip to Ireland in just three words.

“It was perfect.”

University of Nebraska at Kearney senior knew she wanted to study abroad the moment she enrolled at UNK, and the ‘Emerald Isle’ was high on her destination wish list .

“Ireland has always been a trip I dreamed of,” said Fortune, a Dalton native who had never traveled outside the United States before.

When she learned of the latest opportunity, “I just knew I had to go,” she said.

Fortune and eight other UNK students spent 11 days in Ireland last month on an experiential learning course in business management and marketing.

Led by Lisa Tschauner, Director of UNK’s Center for Entrepreneurship and Rural Development, the trip allowed students to explore a new country, develop international relationships and expand their business knowledge.

“Most companies are now global companies. You are no longer restricted by borders and geographic limitations. You can do business anywhere in the world, and you can also live and work anywhere in the world,” Tschauner said. “I think it’s very important for students to look beyond the state of Nebraska and beyond the United States. It makes the whole educational experience richer and richer.

Tschauner’s course focused on design thinking, a problem-solving approach that puts consumer needs first. The interdisciplinary class had students from a variety of disciplines, including social work, health sciences, business administration, business intelligence, and industrial distribution.

Prior to the trip, his students visited Younes Hospitality, Kearney Area Chamber of Commerce, Kearney Visitors Bureau, Pioneer Village and Minden Opera House to discuss local tourism strengths and strategies. In Ireland, they teamed up with students and professors from the Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology, now part of the Atlantic Technological University, to analyze tourism in that country and propose solutions to some current challenges. They also worked directly with the Park Lodge Hotel, where the UNK band stayed.

“Tourism in Ireland is very different from what it is in Nebraska,” Tschauner said. “Our students were able to use their experiences in both locations to introduce new ideas that could benefit this client.”

For example, one student recommended the hotel consider a program similar to the Nebraska Passport, which promotes the state’s “hidden gems” by offering special offers and prizes to travelers visiting businesses and specific attractions.

The UNK group even saw potential passport destinations on the Aran Islands, where they visited a farm that produces goat cheese, a company that harvests seaweed and a company that offers luxury camping, also known as name of “glamping”.

They also did their share of visits.

The first day was spent in Dublin, where they visited the Guinness Storehouse, attended a service at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, watched the Book of Kells at Trinity College and enjoyed the nightlife. They also traveled to the Cliffs of Moher and Killary Fjord and attended the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Galway.

“The scenery is definitely something to remember,” said Jairo Alvarez, a UNK senior from Lexington. “It really felt like a whole other world.”

Like Fortune, it was his first time traveling overseas.

“It was a lot to take in, but in a good way,” said Alvarez, who is studying business administration with a major in marketing and a minor in international business. “There’s so much you can learn while studying abroad and you meet so many new people. It’s a great way to expand your network.

The two UNK students were impressed with the hospitality they received.

“I feel like I’ve spoken to the whole of Ireland because the people are so friendly and outgoing,” said Fortune, who particularly enjoyed the opportunity to interact with students from Galway.

“These are bonds that I think we will keep throughout our lives,” she said.

Fortune is also studying Business Administration with a major in Marketing and minors in International Business and Spanish. She’ll cross another destination off her bucket list when she travels to Costa Rica this summer as part of a study abroad program run by UNK’s Department of Modern Languages.

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