Ireland

End of First Semester

Wednesday, December 12th, 2007

As winter break approaches, it seems strange for me to not be packing up and returning home with all of the friends I’ve made here. Their semesters are over, but I still have one more remaining, so we are in very different places in life. This semester has been amazing, filled with trips and sights that I never thought I would see, but it has also been sort of draining. All of us American students are on a mad rush to see as much of Europe as possible, so school gets put on the backburner at times and money is thrown around for “time of your life” trips. I don’t regret booking trips to London, Stockholm, Athens, Paris or any of the smaller trips around Ireland; I just wish the dollar was stronger so that each trip didn’t hurt the wallet so badly! Although school has been fairly easy compared to classes back home, I was a procrastinator and it was a little stressful at the end when the papers are due and the exams are pending. I don’t know what to suggest to other students traveling abroad, except to not worry about taking out loans or borrowing money from your parents, because although it is spent very easily, it helps the semester really form to your ideal picture of what life is like in another country. Keeping my mind on the fact that I was in Ireland, I learned to not let the little stuff get to me and I had a great semester because of my mindset. I can’t imagine how next semester will go, or for that matter, what life will be like upon my return to the states, but I do know that I’m living a very lucky life right now and I aim to see as much as possible before coming home. After one more exam, I’m off to the south of France for Christmas with a high school friend and then a bit more traveling before classes commence for second semester. It’ll be a strange way to celebrate, without my family celebrations but this entire year has been out of the ordinary so far and I’m loving it!

Comforts of Home

Monday, October 22nd, 2007

I thought that when I arrived in Europe there would be all new things to taste and try and while this is partly the case, many items are the same as would be at home. There is such a strong American influence here, on the television, in the music, and in the food at the grocery store. The interesting thing is finding these familiar items in slightly different packaging. Crisps are potato chips, chips are fries, and biscuits are cookies. Sour cream is much more watered down, Irish ketchup is sweeter than Heinz, Cup of Noodle is called Pot Noodle, and you can only find travel size deodorants on the shelves. No matter how confident I am when I walk into the grocery store, I continually find that I have to examine what an item is and whether or not the name of it is deceiving. How strange it is to buy a can of pop and find that it is two inches shorter than cans in the US. Even the McDonald’s Mcflurry is significantly shorter in packaging and I thought they had been used as a business example of standardization! I’m enjoying the fact that I can buy the things I need, and I get a laugh every time something has an entirely different name from what I am used to. (more…)

Day Tripper

Monday, October 15th, 2007

On the plane to Galway at the end of August, I met a boy from Wisconsin we really hit it off as friends. Since then, I’ve been hanging out with him and his flatmates, all of whom are from Minnesota. We had all arrived a week before school started and were finding our way around Galway together. It was an adventure everyday because the town was new to all of us and none of the Irish students had arrived at school yet. All of us international students wandered around together and explored the city and its surroundings. The day before classes started, my midwestern friends and myself decided road2.jpgthat we would go on a day trip to the nearby town of Cong, and explore the Connemara region, north of Galway. Little did we know this meant waking up bright and early in order to catch the bus in the center of town. We also didn’t expect the roads to be what they were. Apparently here in Ireland, more money goes into the stone walls that border all of the roads rather than the roads themselves. It was quite the stomach turner to say the least!

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