Tag Archives: Ireland Study Abroad Program

Missing Ireland.

7 Nov

Ireland-Summer 2012

I’ve been missing Ireland recently, and with that strong sense of missing I am filled with a sense of hope….hope that I found another place I love and hope that one day I will return to a place that showed me what it is to feel truly alive. My 5 weeks studying abroad in Ireland this past summer were the hardest and best 5 weeks I’ve ever had. Heck, I made the decision to spend 5 full weeks in a foreign country where I didn’t know a single person beforehand. Thankfully, I could speak the language, though at times the accents took some getting used to (no matter how much I loved them). I experienced things I never dreamed: I climbed to the top of an Irish castle, I sat in numerous pubs and enjoyed traditional Irish music, which the locals called “trad,” I experienced the horror and excitement of having to remember which direction traffic was coming from, I enjoyed Bulmer’s Hard Cider to my heart’s content, and I made some of the most incredible friends. For the first time, I really did take a bite out of life. Actually, I ate the whole dang cake!

A quote from Autobiography of a Face by Lucy Grealy sums up my experience perfectly:

“Sometimes the briefest moments capture us, force us to take them in, and demand that we live the rest of our lives in reference to them.”

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Let’s talk about the weather.

14 Aug

When I was in Ireland for my summer study abroad program earlier this summer, I took an Irish language class that met twice a week. I was hoping to learn some Irish phrases so that I could come back to the States and impress my friends and family with some Irish, or maybe an accent. Unfortunately, I came back with neither. However, I did learn one interesting thing: The Irish love to talk about the weather. One of my language professors said that in Ireland it’s typical to spend about 15 or 20 minutes every day just talking about the weather, as if it is as important as something that happened at work or an interesting conversation you overhead while standing in line at the grocery store. I found the importance of the weather as a conversation piece very interesting mainly because that’s not how the topic of weather is viewed in the States.

Here if someone brings up the weather as a conversation topic, they’ve done it for 2 reasons: 1. The conversation is so boring or awkward that they’ve settled for discussing the weather or 2. Something big is happening in terms of the weather (i.e there’s a severe storm coming their way or it’s been unseasonably hot). Normally, I think that if the weather is brought up as something to genuinely discuss, the conversation has already been shot to hell. However, imagine how things would change if we put the same emphasis on the topic of the weather as the Irish do. Though we normally view the topic of the weather as a mundane discussion, taking the time to actually sit down and comment on the weather could help us slow down a little bit. It could give us a break, even a small one, to discuss something that seems as simple as brushing our teeth in the morning. When I was in Ireland, I noticed the slow and overall relaxed nature of the Irish. They don’t rush. If the bus is 15 minutes late, it’s not a big deal. The earliest classes begin at 9am rather than 8am. However, forbid them to go into their favorite pub as soon as they get off work at 5pm, and you’ve got trouble.

I know that if I took a few minutes every day to talk about (or at least observe) the weather, it would be a daily reminder to slow down. Though I know that it is a common saying to “Stop and smell the roses,” how many of us really stop and take the time to notice the little things? Maybe today each one of us could try to connect to our Irish roots (that we may or may not have) so that we can be reminded to take things just a little bit slower.

Ireland tomorrow!

18 Jun

Oh my gosh!!!! I leave for Ireland….TOMORROW. I woke up this morning with a huge grin on my face and started jumping around like a kid on Christmas morning because I realized that tomorrow is the big day!!!!

I’m spending today getting last-minute things together and going over and over my lists of necessities to hopefully not forget anything. However, the great thing is that most anything I forget in terms of little things can be bought over there, which is definitely a relief. Packing always seems to be super stressful, and even though packing for Ireland hasn’t been any less stressful, my excitement today is overshadowing the stress and nervousness, which is a definite plus.

I will be in Ireland for a total of 5 weeks. The first week will be spent traveling around the Irish countryside with my mom, i.e. a chance for both of us to get a huge gulp of Ireland at the same time. I’m excited that my mom will be coming along for a week to travel with me. That way I can get used to things and settled into the Irish culture before I begin taking courses in Galway for the following 4 weeks. Also, there’s no way I could not share my first Ireland experience with my mom. She loves to travel as much as I do, and it will be the first time in Ireland for the both of us. Ah, excitement! As I said previously, we’re going to be spending the majority of our time around the Irish countryside since it is rumored to be completely gorgeous and is the “typical Ireland” that is portrayed when most people think of Ireland. After a week of traveling with my mom, my mom will head back to the US, and I’ll stay in Galway, Ireland for 4 weeks of my study abroad program at NUIG. Even though I haven’t officially signed up for the two courses that I’ll take while in Galway, I’m hoping to take Irish Literature and Film and Gaelic Culture. How can I go to Ireland and not spend 4 weeks reading the great Irish writers like William Butler Yeats and James Joyce?! The truth of the matter is, I can’t. Therefore, it’s a pure necessity that I go to Ireland, read as many Irish writers that I can, and get course credit for it. Yep, purely magical! 🙂

So, Ireland tomorrow! Excitement! I’ll be writing one last post from the states tomorrow before flying out, but as of Wednesday, every post for the next 5 weeks will be coming to you all the way from Ireland, documenting my travels, including pictures galore, funny stories, and all the new experiences I have while living a dream of mine of living/studying in Ireland! So stay tuned!

Let the packing begin!

16 Jun

I leave for Ireland in 3 days! Ah, excitement!!!!! Today marks day 1 of my packing, which will also count as day 1 of list-making for the last-minute things that I still need to get. From the experience of packing for previous trips, I’ve found that I often don’t think of the things that I still need to get until I start putting things in my suitcase that I know I’m definitely taking. Therefore, I’m just going to start pulling out all the things I know I’m going to take: clothes (including a raincoat….a  necessity for Ireland), toiletries, important documents, chargers and adapters, PicCell phone, camera, computer, etc.

I better go hop on the packing bandwagon before I waste too much time looking at the blogs of all those that I follow on WordPress. However, I’d love to hear of some of your packing tips when preparing for a long trip. Yes, I know the whole “pack light” mantra, and thankfully I’m a pretty concise packer. However, what are some of your packing tips? What are certain things you’ve found that you can’t leave home without when going on long trips (the only thing included in this category for me are my computer, my PicCell phone, and my camera)? Packing tips….stories…important things you’ve forgotten….I’d love to hear it!

Counting Down The Days Until Ireland!

11 Jun

I leave for Ireland in 8 days. Truthfully, it still feels a bit unreal, and yet it’s not. In eight short days, I’ll be saying goodbye to the United States and hello to a dream of mine: Ireland. 🙂

I spent time yesterday getting things ready for Ireland: making copies of all the important documents, going out and getting power adapters for my computer and camera charger (the two necessities of my trip, both of which will help me document the experience of a lifetime). Even though I haven’t started packing yet, I’ll probably do some packing trial runs throughout this week so that I’ll be sure and have everything when I leave on the 19th. Even though I’ve been told that a lot of things can be bought once I’m Ireland, I still want to bring as much of my own things as I can. Thankfully, I’ve always been a pretty light packer anyway, and I’ll definitely want to have plenty of room for gifts for family and friends as well as a few momentoes for myself.

Since I’ll be traveling around for a week with my mom before my program begins in Galway, I’ll hopefully be able to at least get a feel for things (transportation, money, shops, pubs etc) before starting my program. While in Galway, I’ll be taking two courses, and even though I haven’t officially signed up for classes yet, I’m hoping to take Irish Literature and Film and Gaelic Culture. Four full weeks of reading Irish literature and learning as much as possible about the Irish culture…I couldn’t think of anything better.

I’m also excited to keep all of you up to date on my travels and my experiences while in Ireland. I’ll be posting tons of pictures as well as recapping the best memories of every few days. I’m so happy to be able to tell all of you how my trip is going. Most of all though, I’m just ready to embark on the experience of a lifetime. I’ve had more than my share of nerves over the past few days, but truthfully, I think once I actually get there, most of my nerves will settle. I mean, how can I not smile constantly when I’m finally living a dream of mine? 🙂