Student Blogs & Vlogs | College Study Abroad Programs, IFSA-Butler

The Hidden Riches of Galway

Time March 16th, 2017 in 2017 Spring, College Study Abroad, Ireland | No Comments by

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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Daily Life as an Irish Student

Time March 7th, 2017 in 2017 Spring, Ireland | No Comments by

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 »

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Outside the Classroom

Time February 23rd, 2017 in 2017 Spring, Ireland | No Comments by

“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 »

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Adventure to Cork

Time January 23rd, 2017 in 2017 Spring, Ireland | 2 Comments by

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!

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The First Week

Time January 16th, 2017 in 2017 Spring, Ireland | No Comments by

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 »

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Final Thoughts: Post Studying Abroad

Time January 4th, 2017 in 2016 Fall, Ireland | No Comments by

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.

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Homeward Bound

Time January 4th, 2017 in Ireland | No Comments by

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.

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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.

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December Musings Pt. 2

Time December 7th, 2016 in 2016 Fall, Ireland | No Comments by

My time for traveling has come to an end as my pocketbook has gleefully reminded me,

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December Musings Pt. 1

Time December 7th, 2016 in 2016 Fall, Ireland | No Comments by

December is here!

I can’t believe, it’s the last month of study abroad, it feels like time just flew by so quickly

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Casey Finds a Cache

Time November 14th, 2016 in 2016 Fall, Wales | No Comments by

If there’s one thing I’ve learned from the past two weeks, it’s this: if you ever want to see a part of the world—and really see it, like the locals and tourists see it—open up your geocaching app and start walking.

Cork in Ireland, Fort William, Glencoe, and Glasgow in Scotland, and soon to be Cardiff in Wales, would not have been as interesting if it weren’t for the geocaches along the way. The different caches hidden around these cities and villages tend to have a little description about the place they are hidden in, and that little description is usually pretty interesting to the wannabe queen of quirky fun facts (hey, that’s me!). For example, did you know there’s a clock tower in Cork that is called the Four Faced Liar because each of the four faces on their respective sides tell a slightly different time until the hour hits and they all read the hour correctly?? Or that the “fort” in Fort William wasn’t completely destroyed during a war or battle like most castles and forts were, but by a train company in 1894, temporarily turning the fort into a rail yard?? I didn’t think so.

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As you can see, some of the tidbits of information are a little more historical than others. Sometimes the information about the location of the cache is a memory of the person who hid the cache. Other times the descriptions are blank or don’t have any fun facts, just hints. It’s still fun looking around the area each one is hidden in. Some caches are teeny tiny, only big enough to fit a log for you to sign, while others are huge and hold neat little treasures to trade in and out.


If you haven’t been geocaching, or don’t know what it is, you totally should, especially if you want to know more about the town you’re living in! Even if you just want to pretend your Nicholas Cage, hunting for your own little National Treasure (like me), that’s cool, too! For all my E&H friends back home, there are a couple by Emory that are fun, quick finds—I’d totally recommend it.I’m looking forward to finding more geocaches in more of the places I plan on traveling to. It really has been the best way to find all of the best spots in town. Give it a try—you might just find a new hobby, too!

I’m off to find my next cache! Wish me luck!

Want to know more about me? More about my adventure? More in general? Check out my travel blog “Casey in Cardiff” by clicking here or typing the following into your browser: www.caseyincardiff.weebly.com
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Casey Cuts Class

Time November 7th, 2016 in 2016 Fall, Wales | No Comments by

Want to know more about me? More about my adventure? More in general? Check out my travel blog “Casey in Cardiff” by clicking here or typing the following into your browser: www.caseyincardiff.weebly.com
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Woah, We’re Halfway There!

Time October 17th, 2016 in 2016 Fall, Ireland | No Comments by

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 »

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Roaming the Countryside!

Time October 3rd, 2016 in 2016 Fall, Ireland | No Comments by

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.

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Adjusting to the Day to Day

Time September 21st, 2016 in 2016 Fall, Ireland | No Comments by

Apologies for the belated update, for classes are officially underway and the school year has officially begun!

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Pre-Departure Jitters!

Time September 1st, 2016 in 2016 Fall, Ireland | No Comments by

It’s still a little hard to imagine that at this time in a month, I will be settled in a foreign country, where I expect to spend the entire semester!!

These past few days have been filled with pandemonium than the typical doldrums of summer, and I am both terrified and excited as I hope to begin this next chapter in my life.

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Chicago to Dublin!

Time August 24th, 2016 in 2016 Fall, Ireland | No Comments by

Lesson #1: Trying to fit all of your clothes into two suitcases takes (1) a lot of patience and (2) doesn’t work.

On my way to orientation! Trinity College here I come.

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Pre-Departure

Time August 23rd, 2016 in 2016 Fall, Ireland | No Comments by

Hello, everyone!

Welcome to my first blog post! My name is Katrina O’Donnell and I am a Biology student at Ursinus College in Pennsylvania. I have always had an interest in study abroad and my school helped me decide how and when to fulfill that interest. After months of decision making, I decided to attend the University of Limerick (UL) in Limerick, Ireland for the upcoming fall semester, which happens to be the start of my junior year at school. I chose UL for different reasons, one of these reasons being that they offer many science and engineering courses that sounded very interesting and that will help keep me on track at school. Another reason is that I have always wanted to venture to Ireland, partly because I am a quarter Irish and partly because I have seen many beautiful photographs of its beautiful castles and green hills.

Anyway, as you can tell by my post title, I have not left for my trip yet. I am three days away from driving to the airport from my home in Audubon, New Jersey. This also happens to be the last day I will see my home because my family will be moving to a new house while I’m away. I am currently feeling both excited and sad. I am sad about leaving my childhood home, but at the same time I am excited to start a new adventure that I know will change my life for the better. Read More »

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Reflecting on the Last Four Months

Time May 23rd, 2016 in 2016 Spring, College Study Abroad, Ireland | No Comments by

They say all good things come to an end.  Unfortunately for me, my time in Limerick, Ireland is over.  I returned home five days ago and I am still having a tough time coming to grips with the fact that it will be a while before I return back to Ireland.  It was the best and fastest four months of my life and I am so incredibly happy I was able to do something like this.  Since I was young I always wanted to spend time in Ireland.  As I explained in my first blog post, Limerick is the home of both of my grandparents who emigrated from Ireland to the United States in search of a better life; the American Dream.  Ever since I can remember, pride for my Irish heritage was instilled in me and that is something that I hopefully can engrain in my children’s lives.

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From Limerick to Galway Back to Limerick and Off to Scotland!

Time May 4th, 2016 in 2016 Spring, College Study Abroad, Ireland | No Comments by

I decided to take a break from studying for my Irish history final exam (I can not believe I just said final exam… what?!) and catch up on what is going on with me these past few weeks. I feel as though each time I sit down to write, I’ve done something new and unique which I feel has epitomised my study abroad experience… I’m definitely not complaining! Read More »

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Where Has The Time Gone?

Time April 18th, 2016 in 2016 Spring, College Study Abroad, Ireland | No Comments by

With only a month to go and final exams looming, things are starting to become more and more bittersweet.  I am happy though because I don’t feel as though I have taken these days for granted.  I truly believe I have grown as a person and learned a ton from this experience… Hey, but let’s not get too melancholy yet.  There is still loads of time! Read More »

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The Nicest People in the World

Time April 14th, 2016 in 2016 Spring, College Study Abroad, Ireland | No Comments by

I’ve mentioned before, I did very little research before deciding to study at University College Cork. I didn’t have a ton of options for schools that met my engineering course requirements; I knew I wanted to study in Europe. And I was adamant that, whichever country I ended up in, the citizens of that country spoke English.

People encouraged me to drop this restriction; it cut out France, Spain, Germany, Italy– so many countries in Europe do not first and foremost speak English, and what if I was missing out on a crucial experience by going somewhere that did? Read More »

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Oh, the Places You’ll Go!

Time April 13th, 2016 in 2016 Spring, College Study Abroad, Ireland | No Comments by

It’s crazy to think I that it’s already week 11 here at the University of Limerick, I have less than five weeks in Ireland :( . The last few weeks have been filled with fun and excitement, though.  Recently I’ve done a lot of touring throughout Ireland, took a trip to Amsterdam, Netherlands and made some other great memories in and around Limerick. Read More »

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What a Trip So Far!

Time March 10th, 2016 in 2016 Spring, College Study Abroad, Ireland | No Comments by

Saint Patrick’s Day is a week away and it’s been a while since I last wrote, so I thought I would take a moment to fill you guys in on what’s happening here in Limerick.

In my last post, I explained that I was playing for a soccer team in Tipperary, Cloughjordan F.C.. It’s been a lot of fun training with the other guys and getting to know some of them.  It’s about a thirty minute trip to where we train so I catch a ride with one of my teammates, Simon.  Simon actually went to the University of Limerick and studied Mechanical Engineering.  Luckily for me, he lives nearby in Annacotty, Limerick so he drives me to and from practices and games.  Other than being a genuinely good guy, he’s a great soccer player… Probably the best on our team!  He has kind of taken me under his wing at practices because I am one of the younger guys on the team.  It’s cool to think that not only soccer, but sports in general, enables people like myself to forge relationships with those whom they otherwise wouldn’t.  Being able to play soccer in Ireland has certainly made my study abroad experience that much more authentic. I’m glad I made this decision.

My time spent in Belfast, Northern Ireland was great. The Antrim Coast Tour was the most aesthetically satisfying sightseeing I have ever done.  Views from the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge, Dunluce Castle and the Giant’s Causeway were stunning, to say the least.  Some of the places I had the pleasure of seeing have been filmed in the popular series, Game of Thrones. However, the best part of the trip was the Black Taxi Tour.  In traditional style, Black Cab drivers brought us throughout the Shankhill Road and Falls Road communities, which to this day, are divided by a 40+ foot wall with gates that are locked at 7 p.m. every night.  “The Peace Wall”  as it is known, divides the Roman Catholic (Separatist) and Protestant (Loyalist) communities.  This wall was constructed to try and keep the two sides from waging war on the other during a period of time coined, “The Troubles”.  This is the common name for the ethno-nationalist conflict in Northern Ireland, which started in the late 1960’s and was said to have ended with the signing of the Good Friday Act in 1998… Although violence between the two occur sporadically to this day.  I had the pleasure of signing my name alongside thousands of other names on the Peace Wall. Underneath my name I wrote the phrase 26+6=1, which stands for the 26 counties in the Republic of Ireland and the 6 counties in Northern Ireland to form one Ireland. That was one of the most profound experiences in my life, it really resonated with me.

Last week was Raise and Give (Charity) Week at the University of Limerick.  It is a great cause which raises money for four separate charities.  The weeklong event is comprised of not only charity, but fun activities and a bit (a lot) of partying!  I had a great time with some of my new Irish friends as they showed me how to “do” RAG Week the right way.  The highlight of my week was probably going to see the DJ’s Dzeko & Torres.  They are big back home in the States so I thought I’d go just to say I saw them.  I’m glad I did because I had an awesome time.  It would be great if I could try and implement something similar at Franklin & Marshall College; I’ll have to think about that.

Another great experience I had was visiting the historic Thousand Park which is the home to Munster Rugby. Munster is known for being a powerhouse in world club rugby.  Although this season they’re middle of the road in the Guinness Pro-12 Rugby League, it was cool to see a live match.  Munster faced the Newport Gwen Dragons and won with a squad which was comprised of reserves due to the ongoing Six Nations tournament in which Ireland is in.  Many of the Irish National Team’s players also play for Munster at the club level… But international duties always comes first.

Like I said earlier, it’s about a week until Saint Patrick’s Day.  I think I am going to stay here in Limerick and enjoy myself.  I’m looking forward to seeing my best friend, Matt and potentially two other close friends, Greg and Conor.  Matt is currently studying in Copenhagen, Denmark while Greg and Conor are studying in Glasgow, Scotland.  It will be great to see them. Other than that, I look forward to spending some time with my family over Easter break and seeing more of what Ireland has to offer.  Other than that, I am pretty busy with school work which will be taking up some of my time before I head to Amsterdam with Matt at the beginning of April.  I am so excited for that trip!

Talk to you guys soon!

-CJR

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One Month… Already?

Time February 17th, 2016 in 2016 Spring, College Study Abroad, Ireland | 1 Comment by

Well lads, it’s been exactly a month since I have arrived here in Ireland.  One month… already? How could that be? People I spoke to who have studied abroad warned me of how quick the time would go, but damn, I did not think it would go this fast.  Regardless, I am having an absolute blast and truly enjoying my time here in Limerick.  I’ve been able to become very comfortable in UL and like I said in my last post, classes are going smoothly thus far.  It’s been great to stay with my Aunt Antoinette and cousins Gemma, Jodie and Mark on the weekends when most of the Irish students go home themselves. They live not more than 5 minutes down the road and have treated me like gold since I have been in Limerick.  Mind you, I only met them upon arriving here.  Their hospitality and good nature has been something I will never forget.  The majority of students who study abroad don’t have this luxury so for that, I thank them.

Tonight I look forward to playing some soccer with Cloughjordan F.C. located in Tipperary.  It is a bit of drive so the manager has arranged a ride for me.  I am still trying to get involved with a local club here so tonight should be a good chance to show what I’ve got.  The manager told me that they are current North Tipperary Premier Shield champs, number 2 in the Premier League at the moment and Tipperary Cup finalists the last two years… I will let you know how I fair!

I have a tripped planned to Belfast, Northern Ireland this weekend which I am looking forward to.  I am very excited to see the differences between what I have seen in the Republic versus the British influence in the North. I will definitely be taking photos and posting to Facebook and Instagram, so keep a look out for those.  This trip includes a full day excursion of the North Antrim Coast. We will stop at the Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge, Dunluce Castle and the Giant’s Causeway, three of the country’s most spectacular sights. The next day I am especially excited for.  We will be taking a “Black Taxi Tour” to get a feel for what life life was like during “The Troubles”.  On the tour, the local taxi drivers will bring me to both Catholic and Protestant parts of the city to explain what life was like during the conflict.

Crazy to think that a quarter of my experience is already over, but I cannot wait to see what the rest of my time has in store for me.  Definitely looking to make a few trips elsewhere, but I will keep you posted about that!

Until next time.

-CJR

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Visiting Kilkee

Time February 16th, 2016 in 2016 Spring, College Study Abroad, Ireland | No Comments by

My second weekend in Ireland, a group of American students, including myself, set off for Kilkee. I honestly had no idea why we were going or what of interest we were supposed to find there, but with a name like “Kilkee,” the town had potential from the get-go. Five hours of bus later, we arrived in the emptiest town I have ever seen. It was a Friday evening, and the streets and buildings were dark and desolate. We dropped our bags at the adorable bed and breakfast and walked down to the beach, listening to but not seeing the waves crash on the bay.

In the morning, we went over our plans for the day at breakfast. I have fallen in love with breakfast in Ireland, where cheese, soda bread, scrambled eggs, and smoked salmon have been the norm in many places I’ve visited. Once we were all very full, we set out to the cliffs.

Kilkee is shaped a bit like a horseshoe, with ocean in the middle and cliffs branching off on either side. Every set of cliffs we approached, we stopped to take pictures; each set was more grand than the last. Torrential rain and biting wind whipped around us, and we grasped the handrail to avoid being blown over the edge. The steep drop-offs were slate grey and shear, with dark turquoise waves beating against their bases as if to tear them down. Our group was spread thin across the cliffs, everyone pausing in their own time to take in the enormity of what lay before them.

By the end, I felt very very small. I knew that moments like these were what people were talking about when they say studying abroad is a life-changing experience.

We walked down the middle of a country road back into town, running into no one and gazing upon rows and rows of stone walls and grass so green it looked fake. My walking partner and I decided Kilkee was an entirely different planet on its own.

Back in town, we found a spa that did seaweed therapy, a popular type of treatment in Kilkee. I would’ve never thought a seaweed bath would be so refreshing. We returned to the B&B afterward, sat by the fireplace, and rested and talked. Dinner was fish and chips and seafood chowder and lamb stew (which seem to be on the menu nearly everywhere), and drinks were at the Greyhound, one of very few pubs open during the winter in Kilkee. The locals there told us about 900 people lived there, meaning our small group of 10 increased the town’s population by about 1% for the time of our visit. They further shared that the summers in Kilkee are crazy busy, with about 20,000 tourists coming to swim and gaze upon the cliffs and go to the seaweed spas. They were excited to hear that we were American (another common theme I’ve found in Ireland), and welcomed us eagerly to their lovely town.

Another day of cliffs and hearty food and soul searching followed, along with another five hours of bus back to Cork. Kilkee is a place I will absolutely visit again in my life, during the frigid winter, with its whistling winds and weird seaweed baths and lonely beaches and friendly people.

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