Tag Archives: Study Abroad Program

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.

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Ireland detox: not as hard as I expected.

29 Jul

I returned from Ireland late Thursday night, or more accurately, during the wee hours of Friday morning. Even though I wasn’t quite sure how I would adjust to being back, I’ve drifted back into my life in North Carolina pretty nicely. However, at this point I’ve also realized that it’s only been a few days. A week from now I could be longing for Ireland in every fiber of my being. For now though, I’m loving being back.

I think it also has something to do with the fact that I’m jumping back into routines soon, so it’s not as if I’m sitting around for a few months before really getting back to my life. For instance, I start back at my internship with Lark Books (a book publisher in Asheville) tomorrow, I move in to my very first apartment on the 15th of August, and classes of the fall semester and my first day back to work at the bookstore both begin on the 20th of August. Therefore, I have things to look forward to and prepare for, which I’m thankful for. If I came back from Ireland with all this time to sit and think about what I was missing, I think it would be a lot harder to adjust to being back.

I also just love where I live, so it’s not as if I left the beauty of Ireland to come back to a place that I didn’t like. I absolutely love living among the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, and I’m even more anxious to head back to Asheville so that I can be among my friends again. However, there are definitely things that I miss, most of which are the people who I met and got to know. Even though I know that I won’t keep up with all of the people who I met in my study abroad group, I know that there are a few that I’ll keep up with just because we connected so well when over in Ireland. In terms of smaller things, it’s a bummer that I have to go from being able to drink in Ireland to not being legal yet in the states. However, when I was Ireland, I talked to this Irish guy who said that he went over to the US when he was 20, and it sucked that he had been able to drink for 2 years in his home country only to come to the US and not be able to. Yeah, I agreed with him that that would have been much harder.

Despite knowing that there will be things that I’ll miss about Ireland, I know that I’ll find a way to go back one day if it’s something that I really want. However, during my time in Ireland, I also realized how many places there are in the United States that I’m longing to visit too. Therefore, maybe when the travel bug bites again, I’ll settle to head somewhere in my home country. I’ve got so many options regarding terrain though. I think that’s what’s so great about the US. There are so many different places that are a relatively short distance apart, especially compared to the distance between the US and a place like Ireland. Now that I’ve been to Ireland, I have no doubt that I’ll want to explore all the different areas in the US as much as I can.

When in Ireland, go to McDermott’s Pub in Doolin.

1 Jul

When my mom and I were traveling around Ireland before my study abroad program began in Galway, we stopped in Doolin because we heard that it had some great live music, and boy did we find it. There were only 3 pubs in Doolin, so we were able to go into all of them to see which had the best atmosphere and music. The winner was McDermott’s Pub, which was packed with people by the time my mom and I got there and had some great live music.

I particularly liked the music at McDermott’s because the musicians were younger. There were 2 guys and a girl, and the girl was definitely my favorite. We later learned that she was a well-known fiddle player and could play a huge variety of instruments. Her talent was pretty obvious, and it was great to hear her play. Sadly though, I don’t remember her name or I’d share it with all of you.

Anyway, if any of you ever get the chance to go to Ireland, make the trek to Doolin for McDermott’s Pub. You won’t regret it! 🙂

 

When in Ireland, take luck where you can find it.

25 Jun

Most of us have heard the phrase, “the luck of the Irish,” but whether the luck is still around or not, I’m not sure. I’ve never really believed in luck, but since coming to Ireland, I’ve learned to just take luck where you can find it.

For instance, I’m currently in Ireland and tomorrow I start my study abroad program at NUIG. That’s luck. Though it may not seem like luck that I am here, it’s lucky that the right opportunity arose to allow me to be here taking part in a study abroad program. There are not many people who get this kind of opportunity, but when I realized that I had this chance, I had to take it.

Even though I’m excited about what my program holds and I’m looking forward to meeting new people, I’m nervous. It’s scary….doing something this big. I don’t know anyone. I’m in a foreign country. Thankfully they speak English, but even that isn’t too much of a reassurance considering how big of a step I’m taking. Even though I went to Peru in January of 2010 with a group from my high school, this is a step up from that. Though traveling to Peru was my first time out of the United States, the trip only lasted 12 days, and I was with a group of students from my school, so I knew everyone. In this instance, I don’t know anyone, and I will be here for 28 days rather than 12. Quite a difference.

I know that it takes time to adjust, and my mom has warned me that I shouldn’t be too hard on myself about not doing everything since just being here and taking classes for 4 weeks is huge in itself. However, there’s always that voice in the back of my head urging me to not hold back….that voice in my head that would rather go out and do stuff instead of hang out on campus and study and pleasure read on the quad. However, hanging out on campus and studying/pleasure reading on the quad sounds pretty great to me. Since it is luck that I’ve had the opportunity to enjoy this experience, I’m going to enjoy it my way. All students are different, and all of the students participating in this study abroad experience in Galway, Ireland have different expectations for how the program is going to go. Just because my expectations don’t match those of another student doesn’t mean I need to fret. Maybe it just means that I need to enjoy being in Ireland/taking classes/reading, and maybe by some small stroke of Irish luck, I’ll meet someone who’s looking for a similar experience.

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!

P.S. I Love….Ireland!

12 Jun

My dream of wanting to go to Ireland began before I saw P.S. I Love You. However, once I saw the movie, I KNEW I had to go. Through the whole movie….I sat looking at all the incredible scenery and kept picturing myself there. The realization that I’ll be able to experience the beauty of Ireland for myself in exactly one week seems truly unreal, and I have no doubt that once I’m there, I’ll be reflecting back on the movie and realizing that I’m experiencing all the beauty of Ireland not through a movie, but through my own eyes….creating memories that I’ll reflect back on for my entire life.

Magical. There’s no other word for it.