International Spotlight: Nicole Holtzman in Ireland

June 05, 2013

Nicole Holtzman in Ireland

by Ashley Wolfgang '14

By studying abroad in Limerick, Ireland, Knox College junior Nicole Holtzman has been able to walk in the footsteps of her favorite authors, leading her to feel more at home in the literary world.

A double-major in English literature and gender and women's studies, Holtzman spent two terms in Limerick through the American Institute for Foreign Study (AFIS).

After extensively researching the wide range of Knox study abroad programs, she chose the Limerick program because of her literature interests.

"One of my professors, Rob Smith (Knox professor of English), was a big help through the whole process," Holtzman explains. "He gave me the names of students who had previously studied in the countries that I was interested in. I met with these students, and then based on their advice and my own research, I decided to pick Ireland."

"I wanted to be able to walk where some of my favorite authors, like James Joyce, walked, in order to better understand their writing -- and my own."Nicole Holtzman in Ireland

Holtzman said her experiences at Knox prepared her to make the most of studying abroad.

"Knox has taught me how to think, not what to think," explained Holtzman.

"At first, I was worried about taking five courses at the University of Limerick. But when I began to write papers for my classes, I realized I was completely prepared to do so," she added.

"This is because I knew how to think about the literature I was reading. I knew the right questions to ask about the texts, and the right themes and concepts to study because I really feel that my professors at Knox taught me how to think about literature."

Holtzman said that studying abroad will enhance her scholarly work because "it will provide me with a plethora of material to write about creatively."

"It will also benefit me as a person because it has shown me a calmer way of life. It has made me realize that one can both travel and have fun, and be a scholar," she explained. "I've walked places that my favorite authors have walked, and I finally think I understand that although they are or were all geniuses, they were people like you or me."Nicole Holtzman in Ireland

She also has traveled to other countries, including Spain and Italy.

Before returning to Knox in the fall, Holtzman will spend the summer in Serbia, where she will explore her Serbian heritage. She has received a Ford Fellowship to research Serbian and Irish literature.

"I have the unbelievable chance to interview the women of my family in Serbia to better understand the roles of Serbian women during the 19th and 20th centuries," she said. "I am also extremely interested in the ways that Irish culture is similar or different to my own Serbian culture."

(Photo at top: Nicole Holtzman, right, with a friend on St. Patrick's Day in Dublin. Photo at middle right: a lighthouse by the Cliffs of Moher. Photo at lower right: Nicole Holtzman with friends at a beach in Barcelona, Spain.)