Language Matters

Kathleen Stein Smith, Ph.D

The Irish rite of passage in the US

The tragic death of five Irish students when a balcony fell off a building in California on Tuesday drew attention to a longstanding Irish student tradition – a summer of work, and travel, in the US. So many young people make the trip that it’s become almost a rite of passage to adulthood.

For many young Irish people, who often live at home for their university years, it’s the first time they get to experience complete freedom, out of sight of their parents.

They are usually on a tight budget, packed into bedrooms like sardines in a tin. They may have to use their ingenuity to find work before their cash runs out.

It’s also a chance to have fun.

Many of the thousands who make the trip each year say their summer in the US was the best experience of their lives.”

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Languages do matter!


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