Expectations

As I prepare to leave for Ireland this Tuesday I am doing a lot of internal examination. As my nervousness turns to pure excitement I find myself thinking about why I am going on this trip and what I expect from it. The main reason I am going is because I have always wanted to study abroad. I knew if I did not do it I would regret it for the rest of my life. I chose Ireland for the simple reason that I love the country. I cannot wait to experience living and learning in another place.

Home Sweet Home?

Leaving Limerick after almost 4 months, was hard to do. I am very happy with my decision to stay for another semester. I don’t think my time in Ireland was enough and there is still so much I want to see and do.

I can’t wait to go back in a few weeks and reunite with all my friends. I am truly blessed to have met the people I met in Ireland and to form such close friendships so fast. Even though I knew I was coming back it was hard to leave them.

I am excited to travel to new places in Ireland, like West Clare and Dungraven, next semester. WE also plan on traveling to Rome and Poland, along with visiting London once again. I am really looking forward to this next semester.

It has been a little weird being back in America. I get strange looks from my friends when I say ‘grand’ or refer to something as ‘class’, and there is also the whole difference of ‘rubbish’ and ‘garbage’. But it’s not just the phrases and slang that are different. Being away I notice little changes a lot more. And although my friends don’t really see how they have changed over these month, I do. I shouldn’t expect things to be exactly the same but it’s strange for me to be back and have everything be a little different. I notice changes in myself as well.

I’m going to miss my friends, family, and the luxury of having my food made for me when I go back to UL but I am beyond excited. I have my whole life to live in America, and to spend with y loved ones, so I am going to cherish every moment I have with my friends in Ireland because who knows if I’ll ever get to see them again after next semester.

I like being home, but I love being in Ireland, and ever since I have been home I have only longed to go back.

Paris!

We recently spent a weekend in Paris, and trust me a weekend was all I could handle. Needless to say I didn’t have the greatest time in Paris. The city itself was absolutely beautiful and there was so much to see. We went with a tour group which was very smart seeing as none of my friends or I speak any french. I would advise anyone who is planning on travelling to Paris to use a tour group, it just made it so much easier since Paris is such a big city with so much to see.

The Eiffel tower at night is something I believe everyone should see once in their life. it actually takes your breathe away. The Palace of Versailles and the gardens were by far my favorite part of our trip to France. The Palace was spectral and there was just so much history to it.

The selling point of going on this trip though, was a huge chocolate festival that was held in Paris the weekend we were there. Aside from food and transportation, chocolate from the festival was all I spent my money on. No souvenirs, just chocolate, and it was worth it.

We did have some troubles in Paris though, plans fell though for part of our tour, it rained the whole weekend, and the drivers tended to drive straight through red lights which made me terrified to cross the street. There was also an incident with a man yelling at us in French over the fact that we couldn’t speak french. So that was fun.

I think my time in Paris was a little less enjoyable because I was sick and I also wasn’t too keen on going in the first place. My two friends had their hearts set on Paris and to me, Paris was hit or miss. If I went to Paris while I was here it would wonderful, but if I didn’t get the chance to go I wouldn’t get upset about it.

I am glad I went to Paris though, it was a once in a lifetime experience.

Thanksgiving in Ireland!

Since we couldn’t me home for Thanksgiving my other American friend and I brought Thanksgiving to Ireland!
It actually wonderful! We found a live-stream of the Thanksgiving Day Parade along with a copy Charlie Brown’s Thanksgiving. We had all of our friends over to watch with us while we cooked. Of course though once those were over the t.v. was taken over my Call Of Duty, which is actually what happens with my family back home on the holidays anyway, so it made it feel like a real Thanksgiving.
We cooked the entire meal with the help of one of the Irish girls that lives in our village. I even made the turkey, and I’m a girl who could barely make a turkey sandwhich before I got here late alone cook an entire turkey dinner! But we did it and it was actually really good! I mean it didn’t compare to the meal my Nana makes but I was proud of it. Of course there were some bumps in the road, lack the fact that we had to take all the gross stuff out of the turkey or when we forgot to put water in with the potatoes and burned the pot or when the whole tray of sweet potatoes mysteriously went missing ( we still have not found them) but overall it was a great Thanksgiving.
And after the meal one of our friends had a boxing match, so we all went together to see that. He won the match and we think its directly related to the wonderful meal he had before hand.
Our little Thanksgiving was exactly what I needed because I am finally starting to feel homesick. With it being a holiday, all I wanted was to be home spending it with my friends and family so the fact that I couldn’t do that made me rather upset. But our friends really enjoyed the meal and made it a Thanksgiving I will never forget. its nice to know that I have a little family here to celebrate with when I can’t be home with mine.

London trip!

This past weekend I went to London with one of my American friends and it was beyond amazing! We got there early Friday morning around 7. We planned to tours for the trip the first was a Harry Potter tour on Friday and the second was a hop-on hop-off bus tour on one of the iconic double-Decker red buses.

The Harry Potter tour was so cool. Not only did it take us to various parts of London that either was inspiration for the books but it took us to places where the movies were actually filmed. In addition, we got to see a lot of London that was not related to the series. I am a huge Harry Potter fan so this tour was a must for me, and it was well worth it. Sadly though, I have almost no pictures to show from my trip due to incident with my camera and the toilet. Opps.
After the Harry Potter tour we had about 6 hours until we planned on going back to our hostel so we navigated the city on our own. I am actually rather proud of us for being able to get around on our own. We only got lost once, so it was a big accomplishment. London is huge though, it was like being in New York City, we had to take the underground several times to visit everything we wanted to see. My favorite part of the whole day on Friday was probably the London Eye. Although I have a huge fear of Ferris wheels I forced myself to go on it and it was one fo the coolest things I have ever seen. You could see the entire city, and all the major landmarks. It was so different from anything I have ever done. I loved it!
On Saturday, we did all the tourist things. We visited Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, The London Bridge. The Tower Bridge. and so on. It actually took y breathe away at some point looking at all of these iconic buildings. It was a total pinch me moment. I simply could not believe I was in London. I had dreamed about going to London since I was a little girl so it really was a dream come true.
We spent the rest of the weekend at the other American’s friend’s school. It was nice to get to hangout with students from Britain. They showed us around the town they were staying in and made us proper English tea. Overall, I loved being in Britain for the weekend. It was defiantly one of the big highlights from my trip so far.

A month later!

I know I’ve been slacking with this blog lately but I promise I’ll be more on top of it! I’ve been here for a month now, and absolutely love it! We have made friends with the boys that live with my friend Michelle and they remind so much of my friends back home. They have a whole group of friends from back home that go to UL so we hang out with all of them. The boys are hysterical and so much fun to be around. I’m so happy that they have accepted us into their group of friends. We got really lucky finding such good friends here.
In addition, we have gone a few weekend trips already. We have only been to different places throughout Ireland, but it has still been amazing to see so many new places.
The first place we went was Galway. It was about two hours by bus but it was well worth it. Galway was beautiful. It was near the coast so we got to walk along a pier. Although, it was beautiful it was also very windy so when we were walking along the water we kept getting misted by the water. The waves were huge and kept crashing against the rocks which also got us a little wet. The city of Galway itself had great shopping. I was able to get a few gifts for some family members while I was there, and some gifts for myself. Also, I had my first traditional Irish meal while I was there. It was delicious, and for me to say that is a big deal, seeing as I am the world’s pickiest eater. Overall our first trip was very successful!
The weekend after we went to Galway we went to Doolin, Inis Oírr, and the Cliffs of Moher. That trip was an overnight trip, which meant we had to stay in a hostel. I was terrified to stay in hostel, after seeing one too many horrors movies, but it was actually really nice. The man who ran the hostel was extremely helpful and gave us a map and directions. So my fear of getting killed or robbed in the hostel was a tad irrational. On Saturday morning we took a boat tour from Doolin to the island of Inis Oírr. The island was small but had so much to explore. Once we got off the boat, we took a tour of the island in a horse drawn carriage. Our tour guide was very knowledgeable and he was happy to answer any of our questions. The first place we visited on the island was a ship wreck. It was probably my favorite part of the day. It was simply cool to see a ship that had been there for over 50 years. The entire ship was rusted and some parts had fallen off but I don’t know I just found it so fascinating. After we saw the ship we toured all over the island in the carriage. Throughout the island there were 2-3 foot walls made entirely of stone that had been there for as long as 100 years. The tour guide said that families made them to mark their land and each generation just continued to build them. The walls were amazing, they lined the whole island and the roads were built around them. When you looked down from the highest point of the island the walls looked amazing. It really added to the overall beauty of the island. In addition, we saw a castle while on the island. It was the O’Brien castle from the 15th century. We got to go inside and even lock ourselves in what was once the dungeon. After the island we got back on the boat and explored Doolin for a while. And when I say explored Doolin, I mean we spent two and half hours walking on a path through hills that eventually led us into a bull’s pen then to a road that took us to the Cliffs of Moher. We were walking right on the edge of these hills above the Atlantic Ocean. At times we had to jump over rocks or cross streams and I was terrified that I would miss step then fall right off the edge into the water. Luckily, I didn’t fall, so that’s a plus. The walk was very tiring and took a lot out of us. Once we finally reached the Cliffs of Moher we were so relieved. The Cliffs of Moher were breathtakingly beautiful. We just stood on top the cliffs taking it all in. It was unlike anything I had ever seen. That’s when it really hit me that I was in Ireland.
Lastly, this past weekend we travelled to the Blarney Castle and Gardens. The Blarney Castle was probably the coolest thing I have ever seen. It was huge! And for so much of it to still standing is unreal. We went through all the rooms and each room was labeled as to what it was used for when the different lords lived in it. Imagining living in such exceptionally beautiful building was mindboggling. It must have been incredible to live in such a place. Once we reached the top of the castle we did what everyone has to do when they go to Ireland, kiss the Blarney Stone! We had to lie on the ground and arch backwards while someone held onto us to reach the stone. I think the castle is my favorite place that we have visited so far. There was just so much history and it told a story, it really just made you think. We also visited the Gardens that surrounded the castle. Unfortunately the gardens were not as great for me because I dropped my phone in a pond and completely ruined it. Don’t get me wrong the gardens were pretty and everyone else really enjoyed them but my time there was ruined by my misfortune.
Ireland has been nothing but amazing and I can’t believe we are entering week 5 for class already. Time is flying and it makes me so sad to think we have to leave in only 9 weeks. It sounds like a long time, but I don’t think it’s long enough!

First week!

So I haven’t been here a full week yet, but I got here on Wednesday so it’s been 4 days. I love it so much! They keep telling us this is the “honeymoon stage”, and soon the homesickness will set in but, I don’t know about that. I know that at some point I will get homesick, but I don’t think it’ll be for awhile. I have already made friends and they are great. Luckily, I came here with Michelle so I already had her, but her housemates and their friends are super nice and hung-out with us already. They are going to give a tour and take us shopping and everything, since they have cars, and live here, so they actually know where they are going. I am trying to get switched into her building, because mine is so far from everything and she has an open room. Fingers crossed that it will all work out.

Although everything is amazing now, my flight was hell. My original flight from Buffalo was delayed and I was told I was going to miss my flight to Ireland. So I really panicked. There was a lot of running and some lost baggage, but in the end I made the flight, because one really sweet flight attend held it for me. The flight itself wasn’t bad, not nearly as long as I thought it was going to be.

Anyways, classes start on Monday and it’s”freshers week” so there are events going on all week. I’m looking forward to this week a lot.

Honestly, I think I am going to really enjoy my time in Ireland!

Less than One Week!

I know I’m super late on this, but I have been really busy with work, babysitting and getting ready to leave. Anyway, I leave for Limerick, Ireland, next Tuesday afternoon. All summer I was nothing but excited but now that it is so close I am beyond nervous. It’s not really the flight that I am nervous about, I’ve flown close to 20 times since I was 4, but the entire trip in general. The whole idea of leaving leaves me with anxiety.

Now, I know I am lucky to be studying aboard with a close friend, and thinking about that does calm my nerves a bit. One of suite-mates from last school year is accompanying me to Limerick and we have been preparing all summer. Michelle and I get along really well, so I know she will be able to bring me back to reality whenever I freak out. Unfortunately,I will be staying in Plassey Village and she is in Kilmurry Village, which are on opposites sides of a rather large campus. Although we won’t be together, I know that we will still see each other often. Knowing I have someone that I am so close with there with me is simply a great feeling.

Honestly, the only think that upsets me about leaving is leaving my family. Because I go to New Paltz, I am already used to leaving, seeing as New Paltz is over six hours by car, from my hometown of Buffalo. And leaving last year actually brought my friends and I closer, so I am not too worried about leaving my friends, it’s just my family that bothers me. Two weeks ago my whole life came to immediate stop when I was told that my Grandpa, “Pa”, had cancer. My Pa’s cancer came out of nowhere and has devastated my entire family. My entire life I have been very close to my Grandparents. Whenever I had trouble at home I went over to my Grandparent’s house, practically living there in 8th and 9th grade. So to find out such news really crushed me. I am nervous that someone will happen to my Pa while I am in Ireland, and I will not be able to come home. The thought that I could be missing his last months, terrifies me. I’m trying to stay positive though, because he has already started Chemotherapy, and his chances of beating this are high.

Anyway, I have finished packing for the most part. I still have to pack my carry on and make sure I have all my papers together, but overall I’m set. I’m kind of confused on how picking classes works, but I’m sure I will figure it out. I know this is going to be a once in a lifetime experience so I need to push my nerves aside and focus on how amazing this will be!

–Allie 🙂