Hiking For The First Time

Hello all! I’m sorry it’s been so long since my last post. Assignments all started piling up on top of each other. But now that a bunch are done, I can finally get back to blogging. Since last speaking, I have officially hiked. I hiked in the Comeragh mountains. I’m not going to lie, it was actually really difficult. I had never done an actual hike before. Or, one that was that challenging. We walked through a lot of grass and mud, I learned. My timberlands went through a lot that day. The views are beautiful. The mountains overlook green pastures and see a lot of sheep. The sheep are dyed a bunch of different colors. The ones I saw were either blue or pink. Then we got to a spot for lunch. There was a pond and the mountains were in front of us, and they were covered in patches of fog. It was really cool to see, and pretty unlike anything I’d seen before coming to Ireland. By the end of the hike, I was exhausted, but I am really glad I did it. It was really hard, but I have to admit, looking back, it was rewarding.

Cliffs, Water and Green all Around

During my first trip in Ireland, I went to many different places. I just had to sign up for it and it was on a first come first serve basis. We went to a beach that was in a cute little town. There was a surf club learning how to surf on the sand. It was big and quite beautiful. The houses in the town were small and pastel colored and I’ve always found those to be beautiful. We also went to the Barrens, which is a national park. There’s a bunch of cliffs overlooking the water. That’s a really fun place to just climb on rocks and take in the scenery. The big trip of the day was to the Cliffs of Moher. This is a very famous place to visit in Ireland, and it has the reputation of being beautiful. The cliffs are 702 feet at their highest point. While walking around, there’s some areas where you have to step over a jagged wall to get to the next part and while doing this, you’re between the wall and an electric fence. We went to the cliffs on a foggy day, so at first the fog essentially blanketed everything. But the fog did clear a bit, and the cliffs and water were in view and the scenery is breathtaking. There’s also flowers that grow by the cliffs and those make it even more pretty. There’s also a tower on the cliffs, and it’s foggy when you’re far away from it but as you walk closer to it the fog clears and that’s really cool to see. The cliffs overlook a bunch of different counties that you can see across from the cliffs. The cliffs are definitely worth going to, as they’re beautiful as well as very well-known. On the bus, we had a tour guide who was very informative and engaging. We drove past areas in the country where Gaelic is the primary language. This is really cool because people in Ireland now learn Gaelic in school, but it’s typically not spoken as a first language and many people in Ireland still don’t speak it very often or very well. These areas are in the deep country and the houses are surrounded by pastures as far as the eye can see. The houses are so isolated and it would seem you’d need a car to get everywhere because there is literally nothing but land surrounding you. That was a really fun day and definitely a great start to my Ireland adventures!

Classes in Ireland

I am taking four classes for my psych major and one class just for fun. I am taking psych of personality, psych of work, psych and everyday life, empirical psych 1 and Irish Traditional Music. The classes are taught by lecturers, not professors/ The lecturers use powerpoints and put them online, so in that sense they are similar to professors at New Paltz. Some lectures also require tutorials once a week, and they are taught by TAs or matriculated students. Classes are also called modules. The classes are generally pretty similar to the classes at New Paltz. They’re basically typical college classes. However, one big difference  actually deals with the registration process. As an international student, I was allowed two weeks to try numerous classes. You don’t meet your advisor right off the bat. You make up your schedule on your own and you have to do it manually, unlike at New Paltz where it’s done online and your schedule is essentially generated for you. Another main difference is the classes seem to be less personal. I have only one class where the professor knows my name. The coolest class is Irish Traditional Music. That module has two lectures a week and then one hour of learning Irish dance. It’s really fun. It’s a very unique class and I’m glad I had the opportunity to take it. There is going to be a performance at the end of the semester. I am looking forward to it. I think it will be really fun. Irish dance is very unique and it’s an integral part of Irish culture and this was such a rare opportunity to take this kind of class and I’m really glad I decided to do it. That class and Empirical Psych are my most hands-on classes. In empirical psych, we do research by conducting experiments. In a lot of my classes, there are concepts discussed that I remember learning about in my classes at New Paltz.

Thoughts About Limerick

If you live in on-campus accommodation, you live in a village. These are a bunch of houses that each come with their own kitchen/living room, two bathrooms and multiple single rooms. You don’t have a roommate. Dorming is very different here. It feels to me like you have a lot more freedom and just more room in general. You really are living in your own house.  Having your own kitchen  is important because the norm is to make your own food. That was hard to get used to at first, but I enjoy cooking so I didn’t mind once I got used to it. It’s also really nice to have your own room. I also notice a huge difference in social interactions. It seems like people in Ireland are just generally so much nicer. You can strike up a conversation with people sitting at the table next to you at the pub and it doesn’t feel weird. People just seem generally more at ease with talking to people and getting to know them and it’s just really nice and really fun. People also dress so much more nicely when going to class. A lot of guys wear Adidas pants, but the girls can get pretty fancy with makeup done and nice clothes. I have yet to see a single person wear actual sweatpants to class. It’s a very different atmosphere. I feel like students are slightly more mature here, partly because of the way they carry themselves and the way they interact with others. But they also really know how to have fun. I have really enjoyed getting to meet new people here and observe how this culture differs from culture in the US. The international students here come from a wide range of countries

My First Few Days in Ireland

On the airplane heading to Ireland, I was talking to a few people before take-off and mentioned I was studying abroad in Ireland. I was so excited and I just wanted to talk to everyone and just tell them. I happened to be taking the plane with some people from New Paltz, so it was nice to have people to talk to before getting on the plane and departing. When I first arrived, I quickly unpacked and then activities for orientation week began. It was very overwhelming at first, and I’d be lying if I said it was easy. I was really homesick and anxious at first. I really missed New Paltz and loved ones over there, and of course my family. The feelings of homesickness I felt were similar to the feelings I felt when I came to New Paltz as a Freshman. The feelings I used to feel when missing home were now the feelings I felt toward New Paltz. I guess it makes sense, because if I weren’t in Ireland I would be in New Paltz, and I had gotten so used to it and had made myself a home there. But it was special for me to realize how much I had truly grown to love and appreciate New Paltz, and how much of a home it had become for me, despite the fact that when I first arrived, all I wanted was to come back home to Manhattan. While it was a really hard transition at first, things got better, and it definitely helped to rely on loved ones back home. There were a lot of texts, phone calls, and video calls to people back home. Changes like these always feel impossible to overcome, but with time, things get better, and I am really glad I decided to embark on this experience.

It’s Almost Time To Leave

I’m not gonna lie, the weeks right before I left for Ireland are somewhat hazy. I was a camp counselor for eight weeks during the summer, and two weeks before I left, I posted an Instagram photo from camp. That seems like it was so long ago now. Before leaving, I honestly wasn’t worried about it. I had become friends with a student from the University of Limerick when he studied abroad at New Paltz, and the idea that I would know someone when I got there was definitely a relief. I didn’t start packing until the night before I left, and I don’t think it truly felt real until then. Everybody kept telling me how awesome it was and what a cool experience it would be. When you tell people you’re gonna be studying abroad, people get really excited and it seems like it’s universally regarded as being this totally awesome thing. I talked about it a lot before I went, both to my friend from Ireland and my suite mate who had studied abroad there the semester before. It also always seemed to come up in conversation during the summer, with people from camp, with friends and with family. I was looking forward to it, but it also seemed like a far away event, basically until the night before leaving. There were some minor periods where the fact that I was leaving for four months would sink in, but it took a while for that to happen. It didn’t really sink in until a few days before.

The Denial Phase

One week from today at this time, I will be a half hour into my journey back to the United States. Hence, the denial phase. Where did the semester go? It feels like just yesterday that I was seeing the Duomo for the first time and attending my first week of classes. I simply do not know how to feel. It will, of course, be exciting to be reunited with my family and home friends, but I have no idea how I will say goodbye to this beautiful country and the many memories it has given me over this past few months. I have made some great friends during my time here–some from the U.S. and some in a completely different time zone from mine. I cannot wrap my head around the fact that this enriching experience is almost over. When I first arrived in Milan, three and a half months seemed like an eternity. Clearly, everyone back home was right when they told me to make the most of my time here since it would go by in the blink of an eye.

Fortunately, I am extremely satisfied with my overall study abroad experience. I did not make it to all the places on my list, but I saw some of the most beautiful places I have ever seen in my life and nothing will ever compare to this past semester. In addition to all of this, I myself have grown in many ways. I never thought I would be navigating a foreign city all by myself, but I have become much more mature and independent while living in Italy and was able to find my way (with a few wrong turns here and there). Now that I have friends all over the world, it seems my traveling has just begun! I am leaving Italy with invites to Chicago, Australia, and France to name a few and I will definitely be making these trips as soon as my bank account recovers from my European adventures.

During the last two weeks, I was able to squeeze in a few more trips before I travel back home. While my mom and sister were here, we visited Verona and, of course, Bergamo! I also got to show them around Milan and find a few more gems in this amazing city. Yesterday, I returned from Dublin with two of my friends, which was a great way to end my time abroad. Dublin was one of the cutest cities I have visited and this a great time to go since they take their Christmas decorations very seriously. Every bar and restaurant was decked out in strands of lights and garland and we were greeted with a “Happy Christmas” almost everywhere we went. We took a quick tour of two other cities while we were there, Malahide and Howth, just to get a feel of Ireland outside the city center. One of my favorite parts of the trip was finding my family’s coat of arms. Several shops had little knick knacks with family names and their coat of arms illustrated on them, and sure enough, “Galvin” was there waiting for me to find it. I felt an instant connection to the city and my family’s history. I also had the chance to meet up with one of my sorority sisters while in Dublin! She is currently studying there for a year and met up with my friends and me before we had to leave this precious city. It was so nice to see a friendly New Paltz face after being away for so long.

Now that I have returned to my apartment, the reality has sunken in. The only trip I have left is the final one back home. All I can do now is spend these last few days visiting my favorite places one last time and saying goodbye to the people who made my study abroad experience so enjoyable. Oh, and studying for finals. I should do that too since, after all, I am here to “study”!

Until next time…

xxoo

I guess I should start packing…

January 11th, 2016

The weeks leading up to my departure have consisted of last minute paperwork and a full inbox on Facebook. My Irish relatives are nothing less than ecstatic for me to be studying in Ireland and it’s comforting to know that I will have family within arms reach. They’ve offered places to stay, rides to and from the airport and food-I mean c’mon what college kid doesn’t love anything that’s free? It’s been quite some time since I’ve seen them, but I guess 5 months is enough time to catch up. The influx of messages should be making my departure more real, but it still seems as though I’m not leaving. That might also be due to the fact that I have yet to start packing…oops!

As my flight approaches I have had to say more and more goodbyes. I haven’t cried yet, but I think my mom has done enough for the both of us! The woman can cry at the drop of a hat and I’m sure that when we get to the airport the waterworks will be flowing. The airport employees see that on a daily basis though, so I suppose it won’t be TOTALLY embarrassing…hopefully.

It still feels surreal, but I’m sure the reality will set in soon!

 

The Luck of the Irish

Cliffs of Moher

Cliffs of Moher

Ireland gave me life.  No really it did.  I can’t even explain it.  But this enchanting place truly gave me a new outlook on the world.

This was the trip I was most excited for, hands down.  I actually almost studied abroad in Ireland.  Although Italy was my top choice, I almost didn’t end up here.  Everything happens for a reason and Milan is where I belong.  Studying abroad through a SUNY really is one of the greatest reasons to pick SUNY for your undergrad experience.  When you look into study abroad, you can study abroad through any SUNY.  However, as a last semester Senior, I did not have the same privileges.  I had to study through New Paltz.  I wanted to study abroad regardless though, so this was no major set back.  Years ago when I originally started looking through study abroad options, my dream program was nowhere to be found.  I wasn’t asking much except to come anywhere in Italy, the catch being I needed an English speaking program.  So when New Paltz didn’t offer such a program, I was forced to look elsewhere.  For some reason I have always been enamored with I countries.  It is a coincidence, but for some reason I love the I.  I have visited Israel already.  So from there I have always wanted to visit Italy, Ireland, and India in that order.  So when Italy was a bust, I looked toward Ireland.  This obviously wasn’t a setback, I mean come on it’s Ireland!  It just wasn’t my dream.

I refrained from looking again until it neared closer to the application date, and sure enough this time when I looked again, there was an Italian program that wasn’t there before.  I emailed The Center for International Programs, and sure enough New Paltz had a new program to Milan, in which you didn’t have to speak Italian.  They had only sent 2 students before, but I didn’t care, this was going to be my study abroad program.  They got me in contact with one of the students, and the rest is history.

So that is just kind of my little background story for how I ended up in Milan.  I will say though once I had settled on Milan, I was set to make it my mission to visit Ireland.  I didn’t care who with, where to, or what for, I just knew it and Milan are in Europe, so I was going to get there.  I had wanted to go for St. Patrick’s day but alas it was during the week, so I couldn’t miss class.  My friends and I looked into the weekend before but it was a pretty penny.  We did however book our trip there for April, so it’s safe to say I was beyond excited.  Besides Spring Break Ireland is the longest trip I have taken.  We typically go just for the weekend, but being my lack of classes Friday, we flew out Thursday April 23rd & returned Monday April 27th.  I wanted Ireland to be one of my biggest trips, so I could really spend some time there, and my wish came true.

We found a rainbow!

We found a rainbow, but no pot of gold

We did a lot of planning for this trip.  My friends really wanted to go to the Cliffs of Moher, and I was striving to reach the Blarney Stone, for my kiss!  Most of our study abroad friends that went to Ireland were only able to make one, typically the Cliffs.  The problem being that these sights are so spread apart.  We were staying in Dublin, and the Cliffs & The Blarney were in complete opposite directions.  I feel like these were the tourist sites I was told about in Ireland, and it seemed a shame to have to pick and choose.  Luckily for us though we were able to create an itinerary where we could do both.  Leaving Monday makes such a huge difference, because it means you have all of Sunday.  I did this first in Barcelona, and it felt like you were given a gift of an extra day.  Yes, there is nothing more exhausting then flying out Monday morning to make it back in time for class, but believe me it is worth it!

I made sure to buy some chocolate here, of course!

I made sure to buy some chocolate here, of course!

So Friday we embarked early in the morning for a day trip to The Blarney Stone.  The Blarney Castle is right near Cork, Ireland.  These day trips are long, you leave early in the morning and return late at night.  So not making major plans Saturday was a great call on our part.  Also both of our day trips (through different companies) made stops, which was a relief.  First off you get a little stir crazy on the bus, but also there were no bathrooms on the buses!  Our first stop on Friday was in Cork, which was so picturesque.  It was so beautiful.  The weather was a little wacky, it would rain and then it would stop.  But hey that’s better then straight up rain.  Ireland is very rainy.  Our bus driver informed us that it rains 300 days a year!

Best meal in Ireland!!!!!

Best meal in Ireland!!!!!

Next up thank goodness they took us to a longer stop where we could get food.  We were beyond hunger.  One of my biggest tips for those visiting Ireland, would have to be eating in pubs as much as you can.  Pub food is amazing.  It is cheap, hearty, and all around delicious.  I didn’t really think much about the culinary experience in Ireland, beforehand.  But man oh man our first meal was one of the best meals I’ve had in Europe hands down. All of my friends ordered sandwiches, but I was ordering thinking with my stomach, therefor I figured a sandwich wouldn’t cut it.  I ordered an Irish stew, which was certainly pricier then the sandwich, but I must say this was the greatest decision ever.  This stew was the best food I had in Ireland.  The meat was so tender, the broth was flavorful, and it came with Irish soda bread.  It was nice to use butter on my bread, instead of olive oil, just for a change of pace.  (My mouth is literally watering right now, thinking about this stew).

Soft Serve Ice Cream!

Soft Serve Ice Cream!

Next we had some soft serve ice cream, because of course this huge bowl of soup wasn’t enough haha.  I wanted to get the soft serve, because a friend from high school recommended dairy in Ireland because of all the cows, man oh man was she right.  There was some flavor in the soft serve which I could’t even really detect but it added this floral note to the soft serve, which kept us eating more and more.  The soft serve was creamy, sweet, and a nice alternative to the heavy (but obviously delicious) gelato we eat in Italy.  Safe to say I was not hungry for dinner, even hours later.  Dinner that night was a salad.

I won’t write much more about food (although I could).  Sunday I did have some memorable seafood chowder, and some even more memorable fudge!  But I will recommend anyone going to Ireland should certainly get some meat & dairy because the surplus of cows & lambs really do make a difference in the culinary experience there.  You also should get some Irish Breakfast, and of course potatoes!!  The one thing I didn’t have time to eat there, which I wish I did was the Corned Beef.  Oh well, I guess this gives me an excuse to go back!

Kissing The Blarney Stone

Kissing The Blarney Stone

I can’t lie, as much as I was excited to go to The Blarney Stone, I must say I was not disappointed, but certainly underwhelmed.  I was picturing this large rock in the middle of a field, which you could kiss it and take cutesy touristy pictures.  The real Blarney Stone, located in Blarney Castle could not be anything further from my vision.  You hang upside down at the top of the castle, lowering yourself down to kiss the stone.  I did kiss the stone, because come on you must!  But this was not really what I had imagined.  Hopefully I did indeed get the gift of the gab.  I’d say by looking at the length of this blog post, it worked!

Blarney Castle with MK, Heidi, Brooke, and Taylor!

Blarney Castle with MK, Heidi, Brooke, and Taylor!

The grounds at Blarney Castle are so beautiful.  We even saw a Bride & Groom taking wedding photos there!  We got some great pictures on the ground, and the weather held up, which was a major plus.  We returned to the bus, headed back to Dublin, where we did indeed see a rainbow!  Also sure enough, there were two other New Paltz students, studying abroad in Spain on the bus.  It is indeed a small world, after all.

Saturday was rainy to say the least.  We mostly hit up museums (including the Kilmainham Gaol), which is the ideal thing to do in the rain.

Galway!

Galway!

Sunday, we woke up even earlier than we had done on on Friday and headed off to on a day trip to The Cliffs of Moher.  Our first stop was in Galway, which I was very excited about because that is where one of my closest friends studied abroad when she was in Ireland.  Galway is a very small town, but it was so cute.  We took a brief walking tour, and then explored for a short time.  I wish we had more time there, I would have loved to roam even more!

Cliffs of Moher with MK, Taylor, Heidi, and Brooke

Cliffs of Moher with MK, Taylor, Heidi, and Brooke

The Cliffs of Moher were so breathtaking.  It is hard to describe it, write about it, talk about it, because I feel I can’t do it justice.  It was one of my greatest days not only of study abroad, but of my life.  The weather was freezing, but no rain for us!  The sky was so blue.  Sure it is very windy, so you must be careful around the edge of the cliffs.  But the sight of the cliffs was just so incredible, I have seen nothing like it.  It was so powerful to be there.  Also for Princess Bride fans, like myself, The Cliffs of Moher are The Cliffs of Insanity from the film!  That was a fun little piece of trivia for me to learn.  Anyone who goes to Ireland, NEEDS to go to the Cliffs.

11204980_10153304386633921_4008538265041883987_nWe made a few more stops before heading home.  This was the greatest day of the trip, but also the most exhausting.  We stopped at another cool spot, where they filmed a scene from Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.  For anyone who remembers my Spring Break blog post, I am a huge Harry Potter fan, so I was exstatic about being there!  We returned to Dublin, slept a few hours and took a 6:15am flight home back to Milan.

This trip was life changing.  I can’t wait to someday return to Ireland.  Thanks for reading! Till next time beannacht!

Tamara

Blarney Castle

Blarney Castle!

Paint the Town Green

Ireland is absolutely beautiful. It’s very green! The weather hasn’t been too bad either (even though everyone says it rains a lot) The weather is often cloudy though but when it’s sunny, the green grass shines like no other. It is absolutely beautiful. I have not been to many places in Ireland, I’ve explored more of continental Europe than anything else. So far, I’ve visited Dublin, County Kerry, and County Tipperary. I’m also going to explore County Galway, The Cliffs of Moher in County Clare, and more of Dublin next month! I cannot wait!


Dublin

Father Matthew Bridge, Dublin

Father Matthew Bridge, Dublin

I spent Saint Patrick’s Day in Dublin and attended the festival. This was my first time in Dublin and since I went during Saint Patrick’s Day, I didn’t really get to see Dublin for all of its’ glory. Classes were not in session as it was a national holiday. The festival was pretty great. There was a lot of traditional Irish music, as well as marching bands from the United States.

Saint Patrick's Day Festival, Dublin

Saint Patrick’s Day Festival, Dublin

Joceline and I, Saint Patrick's Day Festival in Dublin

Joceline and I, Saint Patrick’s Day Festival in Dublin

Irish Garda (Police Officer), Saint Patrick's Day Festival

Irish Garda (Police Officer), Saint Patrick’s Day Festival 


County Tipperary

International Society, Rock of Cashel

International Society, Rock of Cashel

I joined the International Society (similar to the International Student Union at New Paltz) earlier this semester, and it is one of the best decisions I have made while here. They have contributed to making this study abroad experience really memorable. Recently, they have took us on a medieval tour in County Tipperary, 25 miles from Limerick.

The Round Tower, Rock of Cashel

Carey’s Castle, Joceline

Rock of Cashel

 

 

 

We visited the Rock of Cashel, also known as the Cashel of Kings. The stone fort used to be the residence of the Kings of Munster but then became a major Christian center in the early 12th century. The ruins also sat on top of this huge hill which took forever to climb (reminded me so much of going Vandenburg for class!) The view from the hill was gorgeous though. We also visited Carey’s Castle, built sometime in the 1800s by the local Carey family. The castle is surrounded by a forest and a river as well, making the site, beautiful.

Athassel Priory, Medieval Ruins

Athassel Priory, Medieval Ruins

Athassel Priory

Athassel Priory

Carey's Castle

Carey’s Castle

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lastly, we visited that largest medieval priory in Ireland, Athassel Priory. The priory dates back to the 12th century, and was a monastery of many men and women under religious vows (nuns, monks).


County Kerry

The international education division at Limerick took us to the Dingle Peninsula in County Kerry, last week. The peninsula sits on the coast of the Atlantic Ocean, and across from the Blasket Islands. It was really pretty. I had lunch at one of the many fish and chips shops. Like in London, fish and chips is a very popular dish here. I, then, had dessert at Murphy’s ice cream shop where I tasted the popular, sea salt icecream. It tasted like vanilla with kick. It was quite interesting. I also was able to visit the Dingle Oceanworld Aquarium. It was quite small but at least I was able to see the penguins get fed!

Dingle Peninsula, County Kerry, Ireland

Dingle Oceanworld Aquarium, Dingle Peninsula

Dingle Peninsula

Dingle Peninsula

Dingle Peninsula

Dingle Peninsula

 

Ireland is super gorgeous. Out of the three places I’ve been to so far, I can’t say I have a favorite. I am lovin’ it here!