Monday, September 29, 2008

Samantha - Ireland - Fall 2008

September 26, 2008

Hello all!

So, I am finishing up my second week in Ireland. It’s been interesting getting into the flow of the culture. The first few days, I was staying in Limerick. Some of the other American students and I spent time walking around the city. It was strange taking a walk and passing a castle in the middle of a city! It is also strange having people group you into “Americans”. When walking down the street, a group of high school girls overheard us talking and commented on the fact there were “Americans” behind them. They also tried to imitate out accent, which was weird to hear. Overall, everyone I have met has been very nice and accommodating. While the Irish have a tendency to not indulge too much of their own personal information, they are very interested in asking us questions about everything! I have had some great conversations with the local people in pubs.
Arriving in Cork, visiting my campus at UCC and registering for classes have all been a cultural experience. UCC has quit a few visiting students from the US, Europe and Malaysia. It is very common to be standing in the middle of campus and hear about 3-5 different languages around you! I have met more European people, in general, than I have ever before! It is also strange to be labeled as a visiting student and have people ask me about the states. It still feels a little surreal. I still look out my balcony in my apartment and can’t believe I’m here! I’m beginning to settle in though. I have finally picked my classes and start a regular schedule next week.
The other thing that has been hard to adjust to is not having my car! It’s something I took for granted, but most students here do not own their own car. Cars and insurance are expensive so college students do not typically drive. I walk everywhere, including to get groceries. The country charges for grocery bags so I have bought 2 reusable ones for shopping. I pass the store on my way to school, so I typically will go in and just pick up a few things each trip because I can’t carry a week’s worth of groceries in one trip! I am not used to making a trip to the store just for milk or eggs! I am also right next to the English Market, which has all fresh and local produce and meats. It is fantastic and I have been able to get amazingly fresh food for low prices. I have also become a fan of the fresh scones they make there daily and their fresh fish selections!
Last weekend I was able to visit Blarney Castle and the Blarney Stone. I kissed the Blarney Stone but I’m not sure if I am any more eloquent! There were also surrounding trails and I was able to see the Wishing Pond and Stairs. It is believed that if you can up and down the stairs backwards with your eyes closed while focusing on your wish, it will come true. I tried it and was able to get up and down the stairs and my wish did come true! Of course I didn’t wish very big so I guess that isn’t saying much! This weekend I am going to Killarney and the Ring of Kerry. I will be going to 2 days. I have also bought my ticket to London for a few weeks from now! Overall, I have a lot of places in Ireland and Europe I am hoping to see and I’m off to a good start!
Overall, I’m pretty settled in! It was much more expensive than I had anticipated to get started. I have an Irish cell phone set up and am learning my way around the city! It is great to be here and, while there have been some things that I wish they did the same as the US, I am enjoying seeing a different way of living…even though I have to heat water to take a hot shower!


Anonymous Samantha Luckett said...

Hi Samantha,
My Name is also Samantha and I am really excited to study abroad in Ireland during the Spring semester! After reading your entry, I have realized that I really miss Ireland! My high school's senior class trip visited there for a long week! I too saw the Ring of Kerry and kissed the Blarney Stone! One of my biggest worries about traveling abroad is the whole money issue. I have no clue how much to save up, or rather, how much I will need. Do you have any advice on this topic?

11:33 AM  
Anonymous Gwendolyn said...

Hi Samantha,
Sadly, my name isn't Samantha, (It's Gwendolyn) but I'll post a comment anyways. :) I know what you mean about missing your car. When I lived in Holland, the only personal transportation was a bike. Like you, I learned to shop for less, and more frequently. I'm planning on studying abroad in India for the spring of 2009. I have a question for you. How did you handle the phone situation? Did you switch your service to a local provider or did you buy another phone?

9:03 PM  
Anonymous Katie said...

Hi Samantha,

My name is Katie and I'm going to study abroad next semester! I was wondering even though you are in a country where they speak English, do you ever have problems understanding what people are saying and what some words mean? Thanks! -Katie

12:54 AM  
Anonymous Samantha Rivera said...

Hi everyone!

The thing that I didn't take into consideration were the start up costs! I needed to get a phone, hair staightener, blowdryer, etc... In an effort to save some money, my roommates and I split the cost of the hair appliances and share them! I also live in an apartment so I had to get all the food staples that I take for granted! I have been here a month and have spent about 1500. That includes groceries, phone, books, school supplies, toiletires and the conversion rate of the $ into the Euro...ouch! That figure also includes 2 plane tickets and multiple overnight/weekend trips. I came over here with about 5000 in my account and that should last me, but I am traveling every weekend. If you don't plan on traveling as much..and shopping ( which I have done a bit of!) you can get by on less.

As far as phones, I bought a new one. It cost me about 50 euro and is a pay as you go. If you get your phone unlocked by your provider before you leave the states, you can put a new sim card in for only 10 euro. At least that's true for Ireland! I didn't know that so definitely look into it before you leave.

Lastly...understanding people... Well, when I first landed in Limerick, I had no idea what anyone was saying to me! Everyone spoke very quickly and the accents differed greatly by where each person was from in Ireland! I asked for silverware and they had no idea what I meant! They use the term cutlery. There are some words and slang that I am still learning and I still say things that they don't understand but I'm doing much better! Just remember to not take yourself too seriously. Even in an English speaking country, you will say something that will cause either questions or laughter. Just go with it! They are really good about understanding!

1:37 PM  
Blogger eckb116533 said...

Hi there,

My name is Britt, and I am hoping to travel abroad to Scotland Spring of 09. I'm so excited to hear that people want to talk to you about the states! I cant wait to get into discussions about the US and what other cultures think of ours! How interesting! I wonder if you'll get a chance to visit Scotland, I really hope I get the chance to take my spring break in Ireland, that would be amazing :)
I hope you have a blast, keep smiling!


1:51 PM  
Anonymous Angie Brown said...

I am studying abroad next semester and was just wondering what the hardest adjustment you made that you did not expect? Was there anything that you wish you had brought but didn't think of before arriving? if you have any other tips i'd love to hear them.

12:22 PM  
Anonymous Samantha Rivera said...

Hey Britt! I am going to do my best to get over to Scotland but am not sure if I will be able to. If you gt to visit Ireland, I highly recommend Cork City! There is an ariport to fly into only 15 mintues from the city center. I've been able to visit a few big cities so far, and it is by far my favorite. Great location to the Blarney Stone and Ring of Kerry too and a lot of beautiful scenery is located in West Cork. I know I'm a bit partial since it's where my school is but it's a great city to visit! I hope you can!

8:04 AM  
Anonymous Samantha Rivera said...

Hi Angie!
I think the biggest adjustment is having to walk everywhere! I knew it would be a change from home, but I had no idea how much walking I would be doing! I was surprised at how much I took my car for granted. Before I left, I was told by friends to start walking a mile everyday. I didn't and I wish I had prepared myself more. I'm doing fine now but some of the hills I had to get up everyday killed me the first week!

As far as things I wish I had brought...mainly certain items of clothing and books! The clothing is pure vanity though, I don't need it I just want more to wear! The books are tough because I didn't sign up for classes until I got to Ireland. After starting and seeing the subject content of the courses, I realized I could have used some of my text books from home. Worse case scenario though, you can have your parents send you anything you realize you need and didn't bring. I have already recieved a few care packages from home! There's always going to be things you wish you had brought but try not to stress too much. It all works out!

8:14 AM  
Anonymous Samantha Luckett said...

Hi again,
First, I want to say thank you for answering all of our questions! You have been extremely helpful! It sounds like you are having an awesome time with your europe adventure. Just reading your posts, makes me want to study abroad even more!
Second, I have a couple questions about picking classes over seas.

Do you think it would be a good idea to pick a lot of classes for my major?

Are the classes harder over there?

Or what other tips do you have about courses and school work?

Sammy Luckett

11:35 PM  
Anonymous Britt said...

hi Sam!

In scotland, it seems that professors grade a lot on a big exam at the end of the term... any suggestions as to how to cope with that? also, which classes are better to take that deal with hands on work rather than tests and essays? I find I learn better doing things firsthand...
also, did you ever change your courses once they started, or were the ones you originally picked sufficient?
are advisors in the UK as helpful as in the US with helping you pick classes? I dont hope to have to change my schedule, but if I do itd be nice to know who to talk to.

thanks for all your help :)

3:01 PM  
Anonymous Shannon D. said...

Hey Samantha! Looks like you are having fun in England! It was really fun getting to know you in Rhetorics last semester. I am still going over to England in the spring. I wish you were still in Ireland so we could visit each other! You seem to be doing well, and enjoying yourself! Are you getting used to the accent? Are there any really different terms that they use?

3:25 PM  
Anonymous Shannon D. said...

Hey Samantha,
I just reread my first comment and I meant to say it looks like you are having fun in Ireland, and I hope you have fun in England haha. How is the Irish culture different from ours? Did you find it hard to adjust? I hope your semester is still going well!

9:44 AM  
Anonymous Samantha Rivera said...

Hi Shannon!

You are going to love England! I was in London for 4 days and fell in love! Anyways, the culture in Ireland is pretty similar to home. The thing I have to still get used to is personal space. Back home, we all give each other our "personal space bubble". Here...not so much! I have found people getting very close to me when they speak. I instinctively back up but they then step forward! It bothered me at first, but it is just a cultural difference. I realized it probably looked really rude to keep backing away, so now I have adjusted my behavior!

As far as slang, there are a few terms I needed to get used to. They say "crack" when something is fun. "That's good crack!" Also, in my class, they said that the playwright was "pissing" on Irish people. "Piss" can either mean drunk or, in this circumstance, to make fun of! I was really confused, and they could tell, so they told that he was making fun of Irish people....completely different from what I originally thought!

11:13 AM  

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