Greetings from the Emerald Isle! I’ve been studying here for just over a month and have been having an incredible time learning about the culture and history of this beautiful country. Despite the challenges that have come along with adjusting to my new surroundings, I already feel as if the experience of being abroad is turning me into a more confident and adventurous person.
During my program’s orientation, I stayed in a hostel located in the city centre of Dublin along with the other American students on the Arcadia University program. Since my university’s campus is about a twenty-minute bus ride from the urban part of Dublin, it was great to have those few first days to explore the city before moving into my apartment on campus. One of my favorite parts of orientation was learning about Gaelic football and hurling, two major Irish sports. The Arcadia program took us to a sports complex, where the staff took us onto the sports field and taught us the basics of these incredibly difficult sports. Although my lack of coordination put me at a disadvantage while participating in this part of orientation, I definitely enjoyed kicking off my abroad experience by doing something authentically Irish.
Another memorable part of my experience occurred this past weekend. I went on a trip with the other students studying abroad through the Arcadia program to the town of Killlarney, located in the Irish county of Kerry. I had the pleasure of seeing some incredibly beautiful scenary as we took a boat ride along the Lakes of Killarney and then took a horsecarriage ride through the nearby mountains. Killarney has been one of the most gorgeous places I’ve ever been to and I feel so lucky to have had the priviledge of visiting it.
Despite all the craic I’ve been having while studying abroad (craic is Irish slang for fun), I have definitely experienced the difficulties that come with adjusting to life in a new country. I have had to get used to certain differences between Ireland and the United States. For example, in Ireland, the street signs are located on the corners of the buildings instead of being positioned separately on rods at street corners. Subtle differences such as this one made finding my way around the city a little difficult at first. Also, the classes in Ireland are structured very differently than those in the United States. Instead of consisting of continuous assessments, most Irish course grades are dependent upon one or two large assignments. However, regardless of having to adjust to these differences, I am confident that I made the right decision by studying abroad and can’t wait to see what these next three months in Ireland have in store for me.
Learning the basics of Gaelic hurling with some other study abroad students! I am on the far right.
Taking a boat ride along the Lakes of Killarney. Again, I am on the far right.