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Global Perspective: C of I students to study in Northern Ireland

Will Callahan sat in his physics class. The digital clock on his phone ticked, ticked, ticked silently. For the last week, he’d been constantly refreshing his email, waiting in angst for a message that could change his life.

He checked his messages once more. A new email. The one he’d been waiting for.

Greetings Mr. Will Callahan, we are honored to announce that you have been accepted as an Irish-American scholar for the 2015 fall semester….. Callahan almost punched the wall in excitement.

“It was one of the happiest moments that I’ve had in the past year,” he said.

The saying goes if you’re lucky enough to be Irish, you’re lucky enough. This fall, Callahan and classmate Karly Christenson will be lucky enough to represent The College of Idaho while studying at Queen’s University in Belfast, Northern Ireland.

Christenson, who is an anthropology/sociology and environmental science double major, will continue anthropology studies while at Queen’s and is looking forward to observing the social conflicts between Catholics and Protestants in Northern Ireland. She’s also excited for the change of scenery the Irish coast will offer.

“Studying abroad gives you opportunities to travel and meet other people your age,” Christenson said.

For Callahan, a junior with double majors in literature and math-physics, living in Ireland has been a life-long dream. After all, his ancestors once called the Emerald Isle home. And he even has one other Irish connection.

Going into his sophomore year, Callahan thought he was lucky enough to be the only one assigned to his two-person dorm room. But a surprise awaited him.

“Lo and behold, one day there was this Vietnamese-Irish kid in my room,” Callahan said.

Fellow Irish-American Scholar Simon Lam traveled from Belfast to study at the C of I last year. Now, the roommates will reunite this fall in Northern Ireland, this time on Lam’s turf.

And what Callahan hopes to get out of his study abroad time is simple: a new perspective.

“I think being immersed in a different culture is good for being tuned into your behavior and how you think compared to other people,” he said. “A lot of studying abroad is just escaping the routine, everyday life, and using it as an experience to grow as a person and to find out who I am.”

What started out as a paper application and a dream for Callahan and Christenson has become something tangible. Passports and plane tickets for September 8 are at the ready. An old world awaits, full of castles, adventures and friends, both old and new—and maybe an Irish pub or a few rugby games in between.

Founded in 1891, The College of Idaho is the state’s oldest private liberal arts college. The C of I has a legacy of academic excellence, a winning athletics tradition and a history of producing successful graduates, including seven Rhodes Scholars and 14 Marshall, Truman and Goldwater Scholars. The College’s beautiful, residential campus is located in Caldwell. Its distinctive PEAK Curriculum challenges students to attain competency in the four knowledge peaks of the humanities, natural sciences, social sciences and a professional field—empowering them to earn a major and three minors in four years. For more information, visit