Where we stayed— With Michelle (my step-siblings former nanny) in her apartment, 20 minutes by bus outside of Eyre Square.
When we were there— April 4 to April 12
What we ate—
Tomato soup and toast (which I promptly spilled all over my jeans)
Fish n Chips
What we did—
Started drinking at 2, mostly
Ate breakfast and smoked cigarettes (which cost 8.50 euros, by the way) in Eyre square
Visited the Cliffs of Moher
Saw a bird show
Went in the Ailwee caves
Who we met—
- 2 fifteen year olds who asked us for hand jobs immediately after hearing that we are American
- 3 American guys in a pub, traveling almost our exact route (Because of the Americans we met, a good 80% of them had visited/were visiting Dublin, Amsterdam, Venice, Florence, Rome, and Madrid)
- An old drunk guy in SuperMacs at 1 am, saying “Could I, could I, could I just, could I just sit with you guys? Come on, come on, come on.”
I think it’s quite difficult to pinpoint exactly what I learned from study abroad. I definitely grew as an individual and have become an improved (or so I like to think) person. So this is only an attempt to define some concrete things that I’ve learned.
1. By far, dolce far niete. The happiness you get from doing nothing. I literally had no idea what this meant. The only time I ever did nothing which was when I procrastinated studying for exams. And even then, I would be on facebook, I’d organize my email, I’d clean my room. But I spent a lot of time just being alone with my thoughts or just sitting and enjoying nature (especially ‘good’ irish weather). Doing nothing during the summer used to drive me insane. But now I understand that it’s good for your health, brain, and stress levels.
2. I arrived in Ireland a stressed-out, driven-by-a-schedule individual. I was all about efficiency and I hated that places closed early and I couldn’t access the internet 24/7. But by the end of the semester I had stopped using iCal, I was infinitely more relaxed about schoolwork, being on time, and things I couldn’t control. I was probably anxious only a few times this entire semester, which is a huge deal for me. Thank you, Ireland for getting rid of my anxiety.
3. Speaking my mind. When you’re with the same people 24/7, you have to learn to do this. I’m very much a people pleaser, but I think eating, traveling, hanging out, and living with same people all semester taught me to speak my opinion more often. If something bothers me, I let someone know. And I’m by no means great at this, and a lot times I’m still passive aggressive sometimes (which is something I need to improve on) but I think I’ve definitely gotten better over the course of the semester.
4. Friends. This semester taught me a lot about friendship. I was surprised by who kept in touch and who didn’t. Friends I didn’t expect to talk to were genuinely interested in what was going on in my life and messaged me occasionally, whereas others I thought I’d talk to all the time went MIA. Friends come and go, but good friends are the ones that stick with you whether you’re 10 miles away or 10,000 miles away. Being gone has helped me figure out which of my friends will stick with me no matter what.
5. Nature. Something I never really appreciated. I’ve always been a city girl, but now I can easily see myself living in a countryside somewhere, maybe an hour outside of a main city or something. It is so beautiful and serene. Even a small town would be great.
6. Independence. Something I think everyone gains from study abroad. I didn’t eat a single frozen meal. I had to keep track of expenses and plan everything I wanted to do from trips to meals and activities. I learned who I can travel with and who I can’t. I didn’t have to ask my parents if I could do something or wait for them to plan it. I was 100% on my own, and it made me appreciate my family so much more. I love being independent, but I was ready to go home and have my mom take care of me. I now know that it is something I can successfully do though, which is a great feeling.
And finally, I made some great friends while I was in Ireland. Although I understand that I can never recreate this experience again, I’m so glad that I’ve gotten a chance to meet some truly amazing and inspiring people. I like to think that we will all keep in touch and talk all the time for the rest of our lives. I think I have a good idea of who I’ll still talk to in ten years. But for now, I’m going to enjoy the friendships I have now and the time I spend with my new and old friends.
Overall, studying abroad was an amazing experience. I am changed in ways that I cannot explain; I know I just feel like a stronger, more independent person with a better perspective on my life, my friends, travel styles, and new cultures. To everyone that made this semester amazing, thank you. I learned a lot and grew a lot, and am eternally grateful. I will forever be a galway girl.
Couldn’t leave Ireland without one last pint of the black stuff!
(Last good pint anyway… London Guinness is shite)
The Dubliners - James Larkin
In Dublin City in nineteen thirteen
The boss was rich and the poor were slaves
The women working and children starving
Then on came Larkin like a mighty wave
The workers cringed when the boss man thundered
Seventy hours was his weekly chore
He asked for little and less was grante
Lest given little then he’d ask for more
Kylemore Abbey, Ireland - Mainistir na Coille Mףire, ֹire (+reflection!) by Sir Francis Canker Photography © on Flickr.
Mixed feelings over mixed drinks… by s a m s t a c k on Flickr.
sin tםtulo by anniegregory on Flickr.
Tippy on Flickr.