Tag Archives: Study Abroad

When in Ireland, explore the Dingle Peninsula.

8 Jul

I just got back from a trip to the Dingle Peninsula with the students of the Irish Studies Summer School at NUIG. I thought I’d share some photos. 🙂

Bunratty Castle. My roommate, Alex, and I climbed to the top of it.

Window from inside Bunratty Castle.

At the Blasket Islands Observatory.

Wall installation made of stained glass and metal at the Blasket Islands Observatory.

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When in Ireland, go see the NUI Galway campus.

4 Jul

I can’t remember if I’ve shared this photo with all of you already, but here’s a picture of the quad of my campus. It’s so gorgeous, and I absolutely love the ivy everywhere. When I first came on campus, my first response, “I’m taking summer classes in a castle!” Well, it’s not quite a castle, but I love the stone and the castle-y look that the buildings have.

Pretty, right? I love it!

When in Ireland, write through the uncertainty.

2 Jul

I have yet to sit down and write since I’ve been in Ireland (not counting this blog). I really do hate to admit that, even though I do have a pretty solid excuse of: I’m in Ireland. However, over the past few days, that hasn’t really felt like a reasonable excuse, partly because there have been snippets of days that I’ve just sat at my computer wondering what to say.

Attempting to work on my memoir while I’m here feels out of place and very foreign. And yet, at the same time, I hear that voice in the back of my head asking why it seems like such an impossibility. Truthfully, I can’t see why it is. Maybe it’s connected to the fact that I’m doing something huge right now and I want to enjoy every minute of it. Though I have no doubt that that may be part of it, I also know that my strong need to write has increased since coming to Ireland. I don’t know if it’s the beauty, being in a completely different country, or just being surrounded by so many different people. However, either way….I feel it. I feel the wheel’s turning in the way that only a writer’s mind can work, and I’m done ignoring it.

A few years ago, if someone would have told me that I’d be sitting outside of an Ireland university typing a blog post, I probably would have just smiled nervously and pushed it out of my mind. Come to think of it though, not much has changed…except for the fact that I am now in fact here, sitting outside of an Ireland university typing a blog post. The thing is, I’m still scared. I love it. It’s exciting and new and wonderful, but I don’t think I’ve ever been more scared. Not of anything in particular really. Just the uncertainty. The uncertainty of not really knowing what the next few weeks hold, all the while realizing that I’ve just got to grab it by the hand and run like hell with it. I don’t really have much of a choice at this point.

Uncertainty can be truly terrifying. Though I know I’m not to the point of “terrified,” this trip has tested my limits in ways I’ve never been tested before. Though I am with a group of students, I knew no one before coming over here…meaning that no one knew anything about me until they saw me on day one. There’s something wonderful as well as scary about that…having people around me who don’t know my history, my past, what I struggle with. Though I have only mentioned my CP to 2 people so far (my roommate and a guy in my group who asked last night), sometimes I have the urge to scream it from the rooftops while other times I’d rather just sit in silence. It’s hard to not say anything when I’m sure people are wondering why I’m lagging behind the group a bit or why I’m not staying in the same housing as the rest of the students in my group. Yes, a huge part of me is screaming, “It doesn’t matter!!!” but another part of me is wondering, “Would it put me at ease if I didn’t constantly have the worry about my group leaving me behind?”

My program directors know my situation, and they have been sure to include me in everything and make sure I’m an integral part of the group, which is good. However, that doesn’t mean that I don’t sit and worry about the group leaving me behind. Thankfully, it’s not a new worry, though at this point I don’t know if that would be considered good or bad. However, it is something that I’ve had to consider every time I’m put in a situation where a group of students is going somewhere, especially when it’s a kind of walking tour. Oh, walking tours, they are the bane of my existence. Okay, maybe not quite that extreme, but they still suck. So, that being said, the worry is not a new kind of worry, but I guess it’s at a new level, especially considering the fact that I’m in a new country with people who I don’t exactly know exceptionally well.

Realizing that this is something that no one else in my group is struggling with is hard, but it’s not a realization that is new to me. However, sometimes it would be nice if my worry was more “normal,” like worrying about cultural differences or staying in touch with people. Even though those worries have been on my mind, my mind is primarily reeling with the thoughts of trying to enjoy Ireland as much as I can without overexerting myself and trying to step out of my comfort zone to the point of where it gives me a thrill of excitement but not to the point of being utterly terrified.

So yes, the writing…the words…they were there. I guess I just need to sit down and sort through them, even if they don’t exactly flow. But you know, sometimes writers need disorder and chaos and confusion, and above all, uncertainty, to get back on track again…to feel somewhat in control again.

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, embrace your Irishness.

27 Jun

Due to some wireless difficulties at my homestay family’s place yesterday, I was not able to post a blog update. I was just as heartbroken to not be able to update as all of you were when you didn’t here from me (Ha…okay, maybe you weren’t as heartbroken, but a girl can dream right?) Anyway, even though I don’t begin classes at the National University of Ireland at Galway today, today is still a full day of introductory classes.

In terms of how yesterday was, I said goodbye to my mom (which was sad in itself). However, I also met my roommate for the summer, Alex. We get along great, and she’s actually taking the same 2 classes as me this summer, so we’ve got the same schedule. Woo hoo. Anyway, since I was thrown into sharing a tiny apartment at the back of a b&b right off, it gave me a chance to meet someone right away (not including my API group that I’ve also spent some time with…though it hasn’t been much). But yay for making friends. It’s awesome! Alex and I also bonded by going to this crepe place called Mr. Waffle, which is just right down the straight from where we are staying. It was incredibly yummy. I got a Strawberry Ice Cream Supreme crepe, which is a crepe filled with strawberries, dark chocolate, and vanilla ice cream on the side. I felt like I had died and gone to heaven, and as Alex pointed out, it was as if we were in a “crepe coma,” and truthfully I can’t think of anything better. Anyway, yesterday was more of a relaxed day since most of the other people in my group were still getting over jet lag, but the evening concluding with dinner at this Italian restaurant called Milano’s which was super yummy. I had lasagna, which was amazing!

As I said, today is all about the introductory classes so that I can get a feel for the classes that I’ve signed up for and make any changes if I wish. I have signed up for Irish Literature and Film and Gaelic Culture, both of which are literature based classes. 4 straight weeks of Literature? Yes please! Maybe by the end of this summer I’ll be wondering once again why I’m not an English major as well as a Psychology major. Hmmm….yeah. Anyway, Alex and I just went to the Keynote Address, which was a welcome talk, or a “hey welcome to Galway. We’re happy you’re here,” kind of thing. At first it was exciting, but I think they could have made it just a tad shorter and we would have gotten the same effect. Long lectures….it’s the college life. However, one thing I did like was the mention of embracing your Irishness. When the speaker asked all of us in the lecture hall to raise our hands if we were part-Irish, the major of the lecture hall raised their hands, myself and some others excluded. However, the lecturer did point out at even those who didn’t obviously have Irish in their blood still should embrace their Irishness, whether that refers to culturally, socially, or just fully, completely, and without hesitation. I’m all for it, let me tell ya!

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.

When in Ireland, laugh at the road signs.

24 Jun

In Ireland, the phrase “go mall” means slow/slow down. My mom and I have gotten quite a kick out of this phrase because it just sounds so funny to say. We have come across so many sayings or road signs here that are common for the Irish, but yet make us American collapse into a giggle fit. For instance, I explained in my first Ireland post, When in Ireland, don’t drive like an American, that driving on the opposite side of the road has been enough of a challenge. However, when you throw in phrases like, “go mall” and “Caution: Unstable Road Edge,” the only choice we have is to laugh and hope we can stay on the road and not have an accident.

Since my mom and I were still getting used to being able to get around Ireland by car, when we saw the “Unstable Road Edge” sign, we thought: Great. Just great. We soon found out that Ireland is full of curves, or “bends” as they call them here, as well as bumpy countryside roads. Therefore, shouldn’t they also include a “Stable Road Edge” sign? I think so.

Also in Ireland they call speed bumps “ramps,” which is also pretty funny, especially because the “ramps” can be pretty extreme depending on the speed that you are driving. You know how in America there are some pretty major speed bumps that have the ability to make your stomach drop? Yeah, well, it seems like all the “ramps” do that here too. That being said: ramps + unstable road edges + bendy roads + all the potholes just leads to a bit of an upset stomach at the end of the car ride. Maybe that’s why the Irish drink so much. Maybe they’ve just gotten out of the car after driving on a tiny, curvy, bumpy country road and all they want to do for the next few days is sit in a dark pub and drink Guinness by the pint. Just a thought. 🙂