By Bruce Strand
DASSEL, MN Dassel native Evan Babekuhl has been smitten by Ireland all her life especially after she saw the movie “P.S. I Love You” as a high school freshman.
The Dassel-Cokato High School and University of St. Thomas alum didn’t just admire the Emerald Isle from afar, though. She captured the in-person experience by taking her fall semester of college at University College Dublin in 2012.
“I got 100 times more than I had ever expected out of this trip,” Babekuhl reflects. “Ireland, and the Irish people, will always have a place in my heart and I cannot wait to go back.”
The movie, about a young Irish widow treasuring messages left by her late husband played by Gerard Butler, was the clincher, but Babekuhl had “always been interested in the beauty and culture of the country.”
She had planned on visiting, so the opportunity to study there was a “no-brainer,” even if that meant not using her Spanish minor.
Babekuhl, now 24, journeyed with two close friends through a program offered by Arcadia University of Philadelphia, of which none of them had been familiar beforehand, she said. She wanted to be on her own, free to roam, rather than with a group from her own college.
She studied at the Quinn School of Business, one of Europe’s highest ranked business schools, but confesses that she never cracked a book until the final exam period (when she had to “cram like crazy’) in order to maximize Ireland’s, and Europe’s, pleasures.
Soaking in the sights
Her threesome visited London, Northern Ireland, Sweden, Spain, Italy, Paris, and Amsterdam, soaking up the sights and cultures and one special day on the Aran Islands off the coast of Galway, Ireland.
“A friend and I spent the day biking around the island, playing with stray puppies, visiting with locals, skipping rocks on the beach, and hanging out in a local pub,” Babekuhl reflects. “When I think back to Ireland, this is the first place that comes to my mind, and is one of the most beautiful places I’ve seen throughout my travels.”
They enjoyed “mesmerizing views of Scotland” on a rope bridge built by salmon fishermen on a cliff over a deep chasm.
The group ate well.
“The fish and chips anywhere in Ireland are amazing and so fresh. I also loved having fresh clam chowder in a little city named Howth, which was on the ocean (near) our university.”
They frequented pubs with live bands playing Irish music or pop covers. In smaller villages one could generally find elderly men playing Irish songs at the pubs. She also played on the university’s slow-pitch softball team and tried lacrosse for the first time with the school’s club team. She learned to play something called Gaelic football, and took part in a hurling match, both classic Irish sports.
Back in the states
Babekuhl is currently working in interactive marketing at St. Jude Medical Inc. headquarters in St. Paul. Her first job after college was traveling the world representing Stratasys, the 3D printing solutions company.
She has a dream job in mind, too.
“I’m fairly new at St. Jude Medical, so will see what opportunities open up for me,” Babekuhl said. “I do know that I’d eventually like to open up my own cafe, serving coffee, breakfast, and lunch, all made in-house.”
Babekuhl graduated from DCHS in 2010 and University of St. Thomas in 2014 with a degree in business administration-marketing management.
Her parents are Kelly Babekuhl and Kim Keithahn, along with Todd Babekuhl and Barb Dahl. Her siblings are Aaron Heiner, Ben Babekuhl, Eric Dahl, Conner Dahl, and Jon Dahl.
Asked if any of them studied abroad, too, she said no, but “all travel frequently.” It’s apparently in the blood.