James Higgins - Summer in Minnesota, USA

Written by James Higgins, LLB Hons Law, America: Here and Now programme in Duluth, Minnesota, 2023.

14 Dec 2023   3 min read

James Higgins  - Summer in Minnesota, USA

Summer in Minnesota, 2023

“A once in a lifetime opportunity that changed the way I go about life for the better.”

Moments to share

The trips to Bayfield, Wisconsin as well as Grand Marais, Minnesota during the weekends were incredible. Experiencing America aside from the tourist spots such as Orlando or New York, was something I couldn't prepare myself for and I felt as though I experienced everything the area offered as a result. Swimming in Lake Superior while on these trips will always be special memories as it isn't every day you get to swim in the biggest lake in the world!

Presenting a movie at the end describing the time I had, the memories I made and the people I met will always be the highlight of the trip, as I got to express how much the trip meant to me as well as watching movies made by my friends I made throughout.

Experiencing a new culture

American culture is different, yet similar at the same time. The people in Duluth were extremely outgoing and friendly. Finding out we were Irish students came as a great surprise and many locals stopped us to explain their Irish heritage and ask us questions.

The food culture was different, however as a foodie I embraced this with open arms and tried all things the canteen had to offer.

In general, I would argue Duluth has many similarities to the village I live in, in terms of the community and the friendly people within.

Challenges and how to tackle them

Living away from home with people I didn't know came as a real challenge to me and I was very apprehensive at the start, however what transpired was the best month of my life. My roommate as well as the various people on the trip helped me overcome this fear and I felt more mature and accomplished at the end of the trip by thriving outside of my comfort zone.

The time zone difference also came as a challenge as I had to go without speaking to my family and friends from home for the majority of the day, however it forced me to go out and experience the town.

Making friends

Coming from a rural village, I feel as though I have an ability to get to know people and make friends very quickly. Meeting other students who would take part on the trip with me beforehand certainly helped to break the ice and travelling all day to get to the University gave me a lot of time to make connections.

Upon arrival we all got on extremely well and on the second day our South Korean classmates arrived. Immediately I made friends with the students and shared things in common - we are still very good friends today.

Travelling while abroad

As mentioned above we went on trips to Grand Marais and Bayfield, however we also got to experience Minneapolis as well as the Mall of America, which gave me a taste of what a big US city was like.

Staying in the dorms at the University of Minnesota was proof of how big colleges are compared to the one's in Ireland.

The best trips in my opinion however, were the areas near Duluth, for example Canal Park and Goosebury Falls, which served as a great demonstration of the beauty Duluth had to offer. The group often went downtown to the Lake and we always enjoyed a swim in the Lake.


Studying abroad for 4 weeks was the best decision I made and was the highlight of my first year at University.

It is important to remember that all the students taking part in the programme don't know each other, so there is no worry about being left out as everyone wants to get to know each other.

Living across the world for a month and experiencing once in a lifetime opportunities will also make you a better student and person when you return home. The teachers during the programme were extremely helpful and outgoing and very similar to teachers at home.