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

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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Dublin to Limerick!

Time January 21st, 2016 in 2016 Spring, College Study Abroad, Ireland | No Comments by

I still can’t conceptualize that I am here.  Dublin was pretty sick and I had a great time for the first few days I was there.  I was so lucky to get the chance to spend the night with my best friend from home, Pat.  He had spent the previous week in London with a couple buddies from home and had a layover in Dublin the first night I got in.  Naturally, we went out on the town.  Our first stop was in Temple Bar at a local pub that had a band playing sing-along hits of the ‘80s and ‘90s.  After a few drinks and some good conversation we decided to go over to the band and listen.  As the acoustic duo started to tell pub-goers their set would be ending soon, they got the crowd riled up by playing (insert song name here), a classic way to end.

 

We then decided to see what Dublin nightlife was all about.  We exited the pub and quickly found a carriage cyclist.  I asked him where the best spot was and he mentioned Dicey’s Nightclub… I now know why my trip advisor purposely left it off the list she had prepared for me earlier in the day.  Needless to say, we had a fantastic time together.  Not to mention it was easy on my wallet with drinks for only two Euro!

 

Oh yeah, jet lag is definitely a real thing.  I was a disaster the next day.  Surprisingly my head was clear as could be, but damn, I was so fatigued.  After some pre-orientation stuff over at University College Dublin (UCD), I had to head back and get some rest.  This put me right back on track and when I woke up in the morning, the jet lag was gone.

 

Now, off to Limerick. I can’t wait to meet some of my friends and family.  Apparently they have stuff already planned for me.  We shall see…

 

Talk soon.

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