Bobcat Faces: Caitlin Buck

With a hop and a skip, Buck coasts to Ireland for study abroad in dance

Buck's photo along the Cliffs of Moher was entered into the Academic Programs International Spring 2011 Photo Contest. Click for more contest photos.

By Catherine Harper

According to an Irish proverb, “The longest road out is the shortest road home.” For Texas State alumna Caitlin Buck, a drive to discover the ancient dance and culture of Ireland led to an adventure of self-discovery through study abroad.

After graduating in December 2011 with a degree in early childhood through sixth-grade education, Buck has taken the center stage in educating young minds. However, with a will to pursue her hobby in dance through study abroad, Buck found a new perspective on the world and, more so, herself.

After growing up in New Braunfels, Buck attended Texas State eager to learn. Pursuing her major in education, Buck solidified her career goals with experience gained from student teaching.

While staying focused on her career, Buck found an avenue of self-expression  at the Inishfree School of Irish Dance in San Antonio. Although Buck’s newfound passion stayed on the sidelines, she felt an urge to experience Ireland first-hand.

“I had been wanting to go to Ireland for an Irish Dance camp at the University of Limerick for a couple of years, but I kept getting injured,” Buck says. “The injuries ruled out dance camp,  but I still wanted to go to Ireland.”

With a push from family to follow her dream, Buck finally took her chance in the summer of her senior year. With help from Texas State’s Study Abroad website, Buck found an affiliated program with Academic Programs International — an all-inclusive study abroad program for students around the world — and was on her way.

Buck’s journey led her to the National University of Ireland in Galway, Ireland, where she took courses in Irish music and dance, Gaelic and archaeology. According to Buck, her courses offered a broader scope to her experience with a submersion in the culture.

“The courses I took were just for fun. They had nothing to do with my major,” Buck says. “The reason I studied abroad was for the experience. There is absolutely no way to better experience another country than living there for a few months.

Buck says she transformed by traversing with the spectacles and culture of Ireland. Traveling to the Aran Islands and Cork, Buck was able to enter a photo of the Cliffs of Moher into the API Study Abroad Spring 2011 Photo Contest, for which she received an honorable mention.

Buck says the perspective shift gained from the Ireland adventure — with self-confidence and inspiration to boot — was the apex of her experience.

“My entire perspective on how people can interact has changed. Studying abroad was an amazing learning experience,” Buck says.

“I was on a confidence high after I came back from Ireland. Since then it has diminished, but I’d say independence and confidence have been two things I have gained since my trip,” Buck adds.

With her degree in hand, Buck says her sights are still on the horizon of her career and future.

“I am planning on moving to Colorado; I’ll apply for a teaching job and go from there,” Buck says. “If I could be a teacher in Ireland, I would, but knowing how to speak Gaelic is a requirement and — if my language course in summer school taught me anything — I’ll never speak Gaelic.”

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