This is where it all begins
Well hello to all of you reading my first ever blog entry! For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Joanie, and I am spending a semester participating in the IFSA-Butler Ireland study abroad program at the University of Limerick for the spring of 2008. Previously I have been studying at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota. I have lived in Minnesota my whole life and grew up in a city about 20 minutes away from St. Thomas. Over the years I have become incredibly comfortable in my surroundings, and I know that studying abroad will definitely change that factor. I feel ready though to embrace the changes in my life that will take place when I move to Ireland, and am thrilled for it all to start.
I have to admit that I wish I would have been able to write an entry during the time that I was preparing to leave for the study abroad Ireland program, but I was just too overwhelmed to do so. Overall, the few weeks before I left were hectic, and I was running around like crazy making sure I had everything that I needed and saying goodbye to everyone. I can admit that there were times during my preparations to get all set to go that I wasn’t really sure that I wanted to leave Minnesota anymore. Making sure that I had everything that I needed and then parting with some things that I couldn’t bring with made really frustrated and at times even upset. It was something that I just had to get myself through and realize that I can’t bring everything I own and that I needed to really make choices. I also had a difficult time saying goodbye to my roommates, friends, and family as well. They have all been such an integral part of my life because I rely on them all so much, and now I would be pretty well separated from them for quite a while. During those few weeks that I was going crazy trying to prepare myself to leave I was overly frustrated with a lot of things, but by the time I arrived at the airport I saw that all that I had done up until that moment was worth it and was excited to go abroad.
Currently, I’m in Trier, Germany visiting my friends Tobi and Max who are students at my home university. I decided when I met them that Germany was definitely a place that I needed to visit when I was in Europe, and what better time to do so than when they were both back in Germany. This happened to fall right around a week before I was expected to be in Ireland, so I thought why not go, I may never have an opportunity like this ever again. Deciding to go to Germany a week before I was to arrive in Limerick made my arrangements are little bit crazier, but so far I have had such a wonderful time that I am glad things have turned out no other way.
So far I have done a lot of sightseeing in Trier. It is a beautiful town with lots of Roman architecture and streets filled with all kinds of shops and pubs. It is so different from any American city I have ever been to because there is obviously a lot going on in the city but at the same time it has a more relaxed feeling to it, that you can truly stop and take the atmosphere in. My evenings have been spent going to restaurants and pubs around the town with my friends. They make the best tour guides because they are so familiar with the city and have a good understanding of some of the things that I’m interested in seeing and doing while I’m here. I know that my trip to Germany would be much less enjoyable for me if it weren’t for Tobi and Max because they are really trying to show me a good time, and they also do a lot of my communicating for me because I really don’t know any German. When we go out to eat they are always willing to translate the menu items for me and tell the servers what I want, which has made things much easier. I have come to realize that this may be a problem for me if I decide to travel to other countries because I won’t have people to help me with communication. So far everything has gone so well for me in Germany, and I am having a great time learning about new things and hanging out with my friends. For now I have not much else to say about my changing lifestyle, but I will be sure to keep you all updated later once I get myself settled in Ireland.