It's hard to believe that this time one week ago I was on a plane to Ireland. For those of you that don't know, this semester I am studying abroad in Limerick, Ireland at the University of Limerick. I decided to just continue with this blog, which I started this past summer when I was in Washington, D.C. studying at Georgetown University and working at The Weekly Standard Magazine (feel free to read the older posts for those of you that are just tunning in).
So, shall we start from the beginning? This may be a rather lengthy post, so I apologize in advance if I bore you...a lot can happen in a week! I departed from Newark, NJ on Tuesday the 18th and flew into Shannon, Ireland. My flight got in at about 6:40 a.m. Ireland time and a bus from the university picked us up at the airport and brought us to UL (University of Limerick). I am living in Dromroe Village, but a lot of other people are living across campus in Kilmurry Village. I got to my room at about 8:45 a.m. on Wednesday morning and I was the only one from the study abroad program to get off at my village, so it was a little nerve racking. I checked in and got my luggage from reception and pretty much just relaxed all day. I am in a 6 bedroom apartment that has a common area with a kitchen and a living room. It's so cute; oh, and I have a balcony, too! I slept for a few hours when I got here then unpacked and watched a movie. Jet lag didn't really hit me too bad which was nice. Here is a picture of me in front of my "new home" for the next 4 months!
Thursday started orientation and we had sessions about adjusting to life at UL, how to pick our classes, culture shock and places to visit. It made for a long day but it was a lot of fun and I met lots of people! I met two great girls in particular...Morgan Dean (Ironic for those of you who know my family) and Vanessa Dion. Morgan is from Virgina and goes to Hollins University and Vanessa is from Mass. and goes to Westfield State College. We were in the same tour group and our tour guide was so funny. We went and got our student IDs and then we went to dinner at the Stables Club which is one of my favorite spots on campus! I know that my dad and my "Favorite Uncles" will appreciate this picture of me and first Guinness :-)
Friday morning we had more orientation activities and we went on a bus tour of the beautiful city of Limerick. It was a lot of fun and we saw some great sites.
We stayed in town for a while and got our cell phones, bed sheets and did some grocery shopping too. Friday night we went back to Stables and had a few drinks with some students from the study abroad program. There was a party for the international club so we all stayed and hung out for a while.
On Saturday Morgan, Vanessa and I went on a tour of the campus and took about a billion pictures! It is a huge campus compared to Etown...I have about 2,500 students at my college and UL has over 12,000 students. Needless to say I was a little bit overwhelmed.
On Sunday we all made brunch at Morgan and Vaness'a house. They live about 20 minutes away from me, which I actually like because I have been getting great exercise! Now, I don't cook. I can't even make break-and-bake cookies without burning them (really, ask my family). But Morgan made potatoes and then we had English muffins, jam and fruit for brunch. It was really good! Not having a meal plan will force me to cook and hopefully I'll come home with some skills to use in the future!
We went into town again on Sunday afternoon to pick up a few groceries and school supplies. It was the first time taking the bus into town, and it reminded me a lot of taking the bus to work everyday in D.C. It was a cold and foggy day but the city of Limerick really is nice. There are some great pubs and places to shop!
Sunday night all of the Irish students came back, which means I got to meet my roommates! Four of my roommates are Irish: Liam, Brian, Kevin and Allison, and then my fifth roommate is here for the year on an exchange program from Japan and her name is Chirio. They are all really, really nice. I've gotten to talk and hang out with all of them and it's so neat learning about their lives. So different than mine, that's for sure. On Sunday night Morgan, Vanessa and I attempted to go to a nightclub called "The Lodge," and I have never felt so close to death in my life. The study abroad instructors warned us that it would be mayhem, but we wanted to explore it for ourselves! There was probably close to 1,000 people there and I honestly saw my life flash before my eyes. We didn't even make it inside! We finally broke out of the line, not unscathed, and decided to walk back to campus and just go to Stables, our favorite place. Much safer idea! The Irish are crazy...
Monday started classes, and I tried out 4 different modules, as they call them. I went to macroeconomics, accounting, geoscience and ecology. I really liked econ and geoscience, but didn't really like accounting or ecology. I have 2 weeks to figure out my schedule here which is nice so there is not much pressure to figure out my classes. For those that know me well you know that I am extremely organized and always have to have a plan. I bet that when I come back from this semester here you will see a whole new side to me! I think I am going to wind up taking: Macroeconomics, Geoscience, Argriculture, Irish Folklore and Irish Writing. The only bad thing about the classes here is that 100% of the course grade is composed of one final exam, which is extremely nerve racking. I hate tests (hence why I am a communications major...) It's A LOT different than what I am used too but hopefully it will work out okay! Monday night we all ordered in a pizza and hung out and watched Glee. It was great to catch up with everyone and hear about their classes and such.
Tuesday I didn't have any classes! wahoooo. Vanessa, Morgan and I went to an Irish music concert at lunchtime which was amazing. I love Irish music! It was so great to just sit back and listen to the "jigs" as they call them. Afterward we wandered around campus some more and attempted to buy UL sweatshirts which we failed at haha. The office was closed so we'll have to try back later. When we were out on Saturday night Morgan and I met a few Irish students who play on the Ultimate Frisby team, so she decided to go to the practice and try out. Meanwhile Vanessa and I went to a meeting for a trip to the Ring of Kerry which sounds amazing! We all met up at Stables later because apparently Tuesday night is a huge "going out" night here. We had a great time just hanging out and meeting more people!
Well, now it is 12:40 a.m. my time and I have a 9 a.m. class. So time for bed! Thanks for reading my blog and stayed tuned for my next update :-) But before I leave you, here are the top 5 things I have learned while in Ireland so far:
1. People say that the Irish do nothing but drink, and this is really what I have experienced so far. Even in between classes the students go to the pub and have a pint...I better not get used to this haha
2. Irish boys really are cuter, hands down.
3. Having some craic ("crack") does not mean smoking an illegal substance...it means having fun!
4. An Irish song is called a jig.
5. They are about 5 months behind American television...
I miss you all so much!