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Taking flight towards Ireland

Sophomore studies abroad in another country
Taking flight towards Ireland

The rolling green hills of Ireland will soon replace the busy hallways of Greenhills for August Casteel ‘26, as she travels abroad to experience something she hasn’t done before.

“I’ve never been out of the country,” Casteel said. “I’ve always wanted to travel and see what’s outside of Michigan.”

Casteel plans to study in Ireland in the first semester of her junior year, and she chose Ireland specifically for a number of reasons, one of which being her heritage.

“I have a lot of ancestry in Ireland,” Casteel said. “I’m really excited to learn more about my family’s history.”

Another reason Casteel is choosing to study in Ireland is the culture itself. Casteel is an avid reader of Irish literature, especially pieces from poet Seamus Heaney. 

Casteel’s idea of studying abroad came to her in the beginning stages of quarantine. 

“I had a lot of downtime during COVID,” Casteel said. “That’s when I started to really want to travel and get out of the country.

Casteel was motivated by her goal of studying abroad and researched immensely to achieve it.

“I found this foreign program called Greenheart,” Casteel said. “I had to apply for Greenheart by writing an essay about why I want to study abroad. Once I got in, they set me up with a host family.”

Greenheart is an immersive foreign exchange program that recommends limiting communication with family members during a student’s stay in a foreign country. 

Casteel is most excited to gain a new perspective of learning in Ireland that isn’t available in Michigan.’

“The school I’m going to has something called a transition year, where you take one year of classes that are more based on home ec and nature rather than the core classes,” Casteel said. “I think that’s a really cool concept.”

Even though Casteel has a different course load during the semester in Ireland, she will not have to make up for lost credits.

According to Dean of Academics Susan Beamish, a typical student needs around 21 credits to graduate, however, the school accounts for a missed semester and adjusts the required credits for each student. Casteel will only need 19 credits to graduate.

Although Casteel is more than ready to learn in Ireland, the experience comes with many challenges as well. 

“I’ve never been away from home for more than a couple weeks,” Casteel said. “Being away from my parents will be hard to adjust to.”

When Casteel brought up the idea of studying abroad to her parents, they were more than supportive.

“When August first told us that she wanted to study abroad, I wasn’t surprised at all,” Casteel‘s mother said. “She’s always been adventurous and made her own path.”

Casteel’s mother believes that an experience like this will incredibly benefit August’s life, in more ways than one.

“Studying abroad is a life-changing experience,” Casteel’s mother said. “When you go to another country and then come back, you see everything from a new perspective. I can’t wait for August to meet new people and explore the world on her own.”

Greenheart requires a recommendation letter to be accepted in the program, and this was provided by Casteel’s ninth-grade advisor, Lisa Flohr.

“August first approached me in advisory at the beginning of last year,” Flohr said. “I learned that she wanted to do a study abroad, I was more than excited for her. Writing a recommendation letter for August was no problem. She’s a wonderful person and student, and she will do incredibly well in this opportunity and experience.”

Casteel has set up a GoFundMe and linked it on her Instagram account, to help with the funds of traveling abroad. 

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