Galway: a quaint city on the west coast of Ireland. This harbor city is home of shops, traditional Irish music and pubs, National University of Ireland, and Ed Sheeran’s new song Galway Girl! But what Wikipedia can’t tell you about Galway are the hidden riches and the beautiful secrets — the reasons why I love every minute of my semester here. Read More »
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Life in Ireland, wow, it’s amazing.
Of course, it has its ups and downs, but that’s just life in general. The best part is, every low is “higher” than the lows at home, because I’m here!
The most notable thing about Ireland that differs from The University of Tulsa would be the daily life. Here, I live in an apartment with four other girls, have a 20 minute walk to class, cook for myself, and have to adapt to the weather at any given moment. But hey, I’m learning how to live on my toes!
The best advice I can give to a student who is looking to study in Ireland is to pack with the weather in mind. The Irish students dress up, for classes, but only under their coat and rain jacket! A big hood is a must, layers, a scarf, and although they don’t wear rain boots a lot, when it pours they’re needed. The rainbows are beautiful, the grass is green, the walk to class is reflective as we pass the Irish countryside. Learning to cook has been a bit of a struggle, but luckily the other IFSA students and my Irish roommates are phenomenal chefs!
Daily life of an Irish student involves waking up in a snuggly bed and having to get up out of the burrito, put on some fuzzy slippers, and shower in the morning while the water is still warm. Put on a couple layers, make some breakfast and pack a lunch, double check that my charger is in my bag, and head to campus for the day. As the twenty minute walk is enjoyable with nice weather, I always have my rain jacket and enough homework to keep me on campus if it starts to pour, because the weather changes every 30-45 minutes. Tutorials (larger lectures) and Seminars (smaller discussions) throughout the day, studying and socializing in between, and making sure to keep up with the weekly socs (societies, which are like our clubs) email! Campus is always lively, whether it’s the cafeteria, Smokey’s Cafe, the library, the Arts Concourse, or the campus bar, Sult. With coffee and soup a day, I’m starting to feel more Irish. Hopefully I’ll turn a little greener for St. Patrick’s Day!
But until then, stay warm (and dry)! Read More »
“There is only so much you can learn in a classroom.”
This is one of the quotes I had heard throughout school, but didn’t understand until this weekend. This weekend, IFSA-Butler took the Ireland group to Belfast, Northern Ireland. Northern Ireland is ruled under The Crown, part of the United Kingdom, but there is no immigration to get from The Republic of Ireland to Northern Ireland (yet). With the students through IFSA in Ireland adding to almost 100 (Dublin, Galway, Limerick, and Cork all combined) I figured we wouldn’t get to do much. Little was I was wrong, and little did I know how much I could learn about Belfast in the two full days we had there. Read More »
Here I am, a mid-west girl adventuring around Ireland! Booking my first bus ride around the country (8am…probably not the best decision), booking my first hostel, and marking off items on my first checklist, here are some pictures from my two days in Cork!
Hey guys! My name is Kate Leahy and I’m a sophomore Speech-Language Pathology Major studying at the University of Tulsa. I’m from St. Louis, MO and excited to spend my semester at the National University of Ireland, Galway! Follow my journey as I explore this beautiful city, some of the country, and hopefully a few other adventures around Europe.
One week in Galway, Ireland includes departure, a city tour, trying to find campus, good food, live music, trying Guinness for the first time(!!!), getting lost (at least) four times, exploring down the coast, and making new friends! Read More »
After officially being home for two weeks, I decided that it was time to write my final blog about coming home. There were many things I missed while I was abroad. The number one thing, of course, was my family. Christmas was even sweeter, especially after missing Thanksgiving. Funnily enough, the second was Dunkin Donuts iced coffee! During customs and baggage claim, I was lucky (and spoiled) enough to have my parents get me my normal Medium Iced Coffee with Caramel Swirl and Cream from the Dunkin at JFK. Thirdly, I’ve missed my friends. Many of them I kept in constant contact with during my semester away but others it had been awhile since we had talked. Either way, we fell back together like we always do and it was comforting. Read More »
Happy New Year!
It’s easy to go into the New Year with the frameset of “new year, new me”, and as I greet 2017, I’m optimistic about diving headfirst into my professional and personal goals for the year.
2016 was a hard year. I know personally that I’ve been struggling to attempt to clarify exactly who I am, and what I want to do with my life and how to move forward to reach a point where I’m happy.
But indubitably, I can point to studying abroad as being the highlight of my year and an experience I’ll treasure for years to come, for a variety of reasons.
It was hard to say goodbye to the beautiful Trinity campus, but I am sure I will be back again some day. It is definitely good to be back home with friends and family (and I’m sure they will all appreciate the Irish Christmas presents I brought them), but I will miss Dublin and all of the great friends I met there through the IFSA program and through Trinity College.
Flying back into Chicago I finally got the sight of snow, which I had been missing the whole semester. The IFSA program was an incredible experience. It was amazing to be in a completely new city, that I had never been to before. And be able to study, live, and travel with people whom I had just met.
A couple friends and I set off to see some European Christmas markets (while studying for finals of course) stopping in both Budapest and Copenhagen.
A beautiful Christmas market located in front of St. Stephen’s Basilica in Budapest, Hungary. It was an incredible sight with the lights and decorations everywhere.
This is a famous “Kürtőskalács”(try saying that 10 times fast) translated as chimney cake. It is basically sweet dough that was wrapped around a wooden cylinder and baked. Then inside of the cake there is a type of mousse. This is all topped with whipped cream (because everyone needs more sugar) and decorations on top. If you are ever in Budapest around Christmastime you have to try one.
This means Merry Christmas in Hungarian. I thought the little Santa decorated wooden stumps were cute.
Next stop was Copenhagen. This is the famous Tivoli Gardens which is an amusement park located in Copenhagen that has a small Christmas market as well. We were standing outside trying to decide if we wanted to go in and this woman came up to us and offered us free tickets! We were in shock. Apparently, her family could not go in and she didn’t want the tickets to go to waste (these tickets were about $15 a person). It was truly one of the nicest things someone has done for me in a long time and we will definitely have to pay it forward.
There were little Christmas markets sprinkled throughout Copenhagen, like this one, each with their own special flair.
My time for traveling has come to an end as my pocketbook has gleefully reminded me,
December is here!
I can’t believe, it’s the last month of study abroad, it feels like time just flew by so quickly
Since Scotland does not have the Thanksgiving marker to kickstart the holiday season, Christmas markets started in Edinburgh on November 18th. The markets are full of amusement park rides, Christmas music, festive beverages, and crafty shops. My Colgate friends, Sarah and Liz, visited me that weekend and kicked off the Christmas season with me. Liz and I had an incredible view of the city on the Ferris wheel. Sarah and I shared donuts covered in chocolate sauce.When my cousins visited, Madelyn and I braved the most intimidating ride of the markets. The “Flying-Star” were swings that went as high as the top of the Walter Scott Monument, or about 200 feet high. It was terrifying but we prevailed and celebrated this feat with Bailey’s hot chocolate and mulled cider. The Christmas markets are paradoxical in the sense that they induce a sense of homeyness and homesickness at the same time. I enjoy them but they also make me look forward to Christmas with my family.
November 24th was like any other day in Edinburgh. The grocery stores were not flooded with people picking up forgotten instant stuffing mixes, or that additional can of cranberry sauce, in case one wasn’t enough. Thursday classes were on schedule as normal at the university. No “turkey-trots” were closing the streets in the morning. However, for American students, November 24th meant Thanksgiving (most likely his/her first) away from home. IFSA Butler, my abroad program, threw an American Thanksgiving get-together the Wednesday night before. We had a Ceilidh, with a Scottish band and traditional Celtic dances. I got to reunite with many American students who I had not seen in awhile. However, when I got home, the worst wave of homesickness rushed over me. I come from a huge family of fifty-three (!!!!) cousins and the idea of not seeing a majority of them over this holiday was tough. I missed my parents and of course the many “dad jokes” that surface around Thanksgiving. I called my parents and they comforted me by reminding me that I was lucky enough to have two of my cousins flying in the following day to help me celebrate the holiday.
On Thanksgiving, I met my cousin Madelyn for brunch following her red-eye. We walked around the city a little and then grabbed an “it’s five o’clock somewhere” pint in true Thanksgiving fashion. When Roman, Madelyn’s brother, landed, it was time for me to go to my last seminar of the term. We met back up for dinner and although it was not a turkey with all of the trimmings, it was still an incredible feeling to be with family so far from home. After dinner, I Facetimed into my Aunt Rose’s Thanksgiving party and was promptly circulated around the gathering of roughly thirty of my family members. I even made it into a few pictures through the screen of my cousin’s iPhone. Afterward, Madelyn, Roman, and I celebrated with my American friends in our favorite pub. I am SO happy that they were able to come and spend the week with me. It was a Thanksgiving I will always remember but of course, I am looking forward to next year’s gathering surrounded by my whole family.
Sometimes life happens so fast that you need to take a breath and remember to enjoy the time you have.
It’s crazy to believe that I’m about half way through the semester! If I had to describe the feeling, it’s like I’ve seen so much and so little at the same time. I’ve had a lot of great adventures here, but I know there are still many around the corner (alongside their fair share of assignments), particularly contingent on how finals schedules shape up.
Speaking of adventures, the weekend before last I had an amazing time in Kilkenny with the IFSA-Butler crew! Read More »
It’s been a little while since my last blog post mainly because my course load has increased and because I have been spending all of my weekends traveling around Ireland (I can’t complain). I have had such a wonderful time during the past few weeks that the semester is already starting to fly by. I cannot believe that it is already week 6!
Since my last post, I have visited multiple cities in Ireland including Galway and Kilkenny. Both of these cities had their own charm and unique features. Me and my friends, that I regularly travel with, fell in love with Galway’s main pedestrian streets that featured an array of tiny shops painted all different colors. Our main purpose for traveling to Galway was to participate in Galway’s International Oyster Festival. In a large tent on the edge of the bay, we tried raw oysters, drank local beer, and shared delicious muscles all while listening to live music and watching children play with hula hoops. Essentially, it felt like the Oktoberfest of Galway.
This past weekend we spent time in Kilkenny for fun and exploration planned by IFSA Butler. Kilkenny is a city with a lot of medieval history. At the end of the city’s main streets, lined with welcoming bars and shops, sits a castle originally constructed in the 12th century. During the weekend, we toured this castle and also went on a ghost tour and learned about a witch trial that took place in the center of town. We also had an opportunity to try hurling, an ancient Irish sport that is played all over Ireland and is particularly popular in Kilkenny. I was a lot better at this sport than I thought I would be!
Overall, my time here has been wonderful and I am so excited to learn and adventure more.
Until next time,
While I know that it’s exciting to use Ireland as a springboard to other locations in Europe for exotic weekend getaways, I think there’s also a lot to appreciate about the island I’m currently calling home.
The title is referencing a famous song called “Forty Shades of Green” originally sung by Johnny Cash about Ireland (you should give it a listen if you have time, it’s quite catchy: youtube link here). Last week I went on a day trip to Wicklow (just south of Dublin) with a group of friends. This tour led us through many of the beautiful landscapes of Ireland and I could see just what Cash was talking about. It was nice to get out of the city for a bit and see this famous Irish landscape. Read More »
Apologies for the belated update, for classes are officially underway and the school year has officially begun!
Wow! So much has happened since I wrote my pre-departure blog post. I boarded a plane from New Jersey to an island all the way across the Atlantic Ocean! Over these last few weeks, this island has become my home. I feel completely settled in at Dromroe Village at the University of Limerick here in Ireland. Living among picturesque walking trails and being a short bus ride away from a hip and cultural city is my new reality. At this point, I have explored and discovered a lot of what Limerick has to offer. Walking trails along the River Shannon are just outside my window, complete with castle ruins and tiny homes belonging to fishermen and their loyal dogs. The nearby city of Limerick has beautiful river front views of a medieval castle and wide array of stores and places to eat that are both modern and classically charming. My favorite spot in the city is the Milk Market which consists of a large circus tent in the center of town and local artisans and farmers that set up stands to sell their products on the weekends. The market has anything from fresh Irish produce and delicious sausage breakfast sandwiches to crepes and real hot chocolate. At the market, you can also buy handmade pottery and potted plants. It has everything!
In addition to exploring the local city, I have also had the opportunity to explore more of what Ireland has to offer through the Student Union on campus that has discounted tickets to bus tours of famous Irish sites. So far I have seen the Cliffs of Moher, The Burren, Inis Oírr and a few other sites on only two bus trips! I will add photos of these places along with photos of Limerick below.
I’m super excited to see what the rest of the semester has to offer. I have met so many kind people inside and outside my Ifsa Bulter program that I feel safe, comfortable and supported here. In fact, have a few trips planned this semester already with friends I have made here that I will share soon!
As for my academic life at UL, I am also excited to learn more in my classes. While at UL I’m taking 3 classes that will focus on Irish history and culture. I am really looking forward to attending more of my Irish music class in which I will get to try out Irish Dance! (Wish me luck!) I have a strong feeling that what I learn in the classes I take here will resonate with me for years to come.
Until next time,