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

Casey in Cymru

Time September 12th, 2016 in 2016 Fall, Wales | No Comments by

That’s right, folks; this girl is leaving the country in two days. Not for good or anything (although, with the upcoming election, I might stay a little longer than planned…). The fall semester of my junior year in college will be spent abroad. For three months, I will be studying at Cardiff University, which is located in Cardiff, Wales. Before you open a new tab and type “Where is Wales?” into your favorite search engine, let me try to help you out a bit…

​Wales is a country in the U.K. North of Wales lies Scotland, England can be found to the right, and Ireland and Northern Ireland are just across the pond to the left. People in Wales speak English, but some also speak Welsh. Welsh is full of cool words like CymraegCymraeg is the word in Welsh for Welsh. Cymru is the word for Wales, the country. Cwn is valley. And my personal favorite: Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch is the name of a small town. It translates to “St. Mary’s Church in the hollow of the white hazel near a rapid whirlpool and the Church of St .Tysilio near the red cave.” Want to know how to pronounce that one? Watch this weatherman nail it! Another neat thing about Wales is that the Welsh national flag has a giant red dragon on it. Wales is looking pretty awesome right about now, isn’t it??

While I’m going to be studying abroad in Wales for the next three months, that doesn’t mean I’m going to stay in Wales and only Wales. I plan on traveling everywhere I possible can while in Europe. Traveling is slowly becoming a passion of mine. I love getting to experience new cultures, learn about their traditions, each place’s history, try their foods, etc. Right now, I have a growing list of places I want to visit, things I want to see, and people I can’t wait to meet while abroad.

Along with that list, I’ve been adding to another list of my own every time I talk to someone about my upcoming semester abroad. I’ve formed a list of advice I’ve been given and would like to share it with you all. Some of you reading this might even see something familiar!

Advice for Casey, provided by many.

  • Be safe.
  • Buy a sleeping bag/sleeping pad to sleep on in hostels. You don’t want to sleep in those sheets! 
  • Hostels are awesome–take advantage of them. And their free books! 
  • Take a suitcase with wheels. 
  • Do you play sports? Doesn’t matter. Tryout for a team anyway. 
  • Drink it all in–literally, you’ll be of age. 
  • Don’t pay for an international phone plan. 
  • Pay for an international phone plan. 
  • Don’t forget your passport.
  • Travel everywhere. 
  • Bring a frisbee. It’s a great tool for meeting new people. Everyone loves frisbee!
  • Have a glass/can of lemonade. It’ll be the best tasting lemonade you’ve ever had. 
  • Buy your Christmas presents while abroad.
  • Take the train. 
  • Join every club/society you can. 
  • Don’t take more than one suitcase. 
  • Take pepper spray everywhere you go. 
  • Save all of your receipts. They’re good souvenirs for people you forget to buy souvenirs for. 
  • Meet up with my cousin/mum/uncle/dogsitter’s boyfriend/etc. 
  • Go shopping on Oxford Street in London. 
  • Buy an actual map. Don’t rely on that stupid GPS thing. Siri can and will be wrong and you’ll wind up in the middle of a sheep farm. 
  • Learn the name Gareth Bale. Period. 
  • Buy a bike. 
  • Don’t leave your luggage to pee, even if you’ve just had two large Mountain Dews, a cup of coffee, and a full Nalgene water bottle. 
  • Go to class. 
  • Skip out on class. 
  • If you feel safe, go on trips alone–gives you a sense of independence and freedom when you’re tired of your flatmates and missing home. 
  • Take pictures of everything.
  • Visit [insert place in Europe here]. It’s the coolest place in the world!

 

As you can see, I’ve been given all kinds of advice (and too many places to visit to list them all). Will I follow all of it? Probably not. Will I try? Probably. What I am going to promise to do, though, is compile a list of advice based off this list given to me and my experiences while abroad to share with others wanting to spend a semester abroad.

As my friends who are also studying abroad either settle in to their cosy new beds for the semester or settle into their not-so-cosy plane seats for the next 8-12 hours, I will continue to cherish my last couple days in the good ‘ole U.S. of A., sipping on a smoothie, snacking on leftover Chinese take-out, and watching Gilmore Girls on Netflix.Until then, see you soon, Cymru!

P.S. Keep the advice coming! I love all of it, even if it’s something I’ve been told a million a one times! I want to know all our your suggestions, too! Thanks!

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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Blarney Castle and Ending Thoughts on my Semester

Time January 5th, 2016 in 2015 Fall, College Study Abroad, Ireland | No Comments by

My friends and I decided to end our semesters in Ireland with one of the most quintessential activities of Ireland — visiting Blarney Castle and kissing the Blarney Stone. Below you can see some photos of the castle and grounds, including some beautiful waterfalls.

But this post isn’t just about another adventure I had. Looking back, I realize how little time I’d spent wondering about how my semester abroad would be spent. I chose Galway because of its beauty, but it ended up being so much more than that. Galway became my home base during a three month European adventure, and I definitely couldn’t have chosen a better one. No matter where I was jet-setting off to, by the end of the weekend I was excited to board the bus headed west and see the friendly faces of Galway. Additionally, my semester abroad pushed me to be more independent, something that will become essential in my life as I graduate college and go off into the “real world”. Not only was I really living on my own in a new country, but I was also planning trips and travelling internationally by myself. My semester abroad prepared me for what is in store in just a year and a half, when I leave the JHU bubble and have only myself to count on.

For any future IFSA Galwegians (Galway-ers?), here is my final list of unexpected/weird things about Ireland.

*Note: I’m sure there are more things

  1. It is almost impossible to find normal potato chips. The standard flavor is “Cheese and Onion” (not a personal favorite, but not the worst thing I’ve ever tried)
    1. Note: another common flavor is “prawn”, or shrimp flavored chips
    2. Note 2: it is also nearly impossible to find pretzels in Ireland. This was especially upsetting to me, a self-identifying pretzel addict)
  2. I can’t speak for the rest of Ireland, but at least in Galway, pedestrians do not have the right of way. This is especially important when crossing the major roads nearby when grocery shopping.
  3. The Irish (and much of the rest of Europe) find American politics hilarious, and often make jokes about it during lectures.
  4. While the national language is Irish (note: not ‘Gaelic’ as Americans call it), only a minute percentage of the population actually speaks fluent Irish, let alone those who use it as their primary language. This is odd on its own, however it is stranger even that almost all official signs (e.g. street signs, billboards) are in Irish with an English translation.
  5. While holding up two fingers with the palm facing out is a symbol for peace, flipping your hand so that the palm points in means the same thing as putting up your middle finger. For short: there are no “deuces” in Ireland, so be wary.
  6. Times of day that are 30 minutes past the hour are referred to as “half”, for example “Breakfast is at half nine” or “We arrived at half three.”
  7. While we refer to the school subject as “math”, they make it plural, for example “I study maths at university”.
  8. The last letter of the alphabet is pronounced “zed”. I found this especially funny while listening to Irish friends sing the alphabet song, as it doesn’t complete the rhyme of the song.

 

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about my semester abroad. Personally, I’m excited to get back home to my family and friends to have a nice winter break before heading back to school. Happy holidays and have a happy New Year!

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