Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Jessica T. - Galway, Ireland - Fall 2011

It’s hard to believe that today is my one month anniversary…..one full month that I’ve been in beautiful Ireland! I gotta tell you, it truly is amazing! In just one month, I already feel like I’ve gotten to do so much, see great sights, and meet so many new people. So far I’ve been to Dublin, the Dingle Peninsula, Connemara, the Cliffs of Moher, and of course Galway, where I’m studying.

            Before coming abroad it’s impossible to really know what to expect. Sure, you read up on the culture, try to prepare yourself for things to come, and speak to other people who have visited that country. Although all these are very helpful and definitely recommended, you really never know what’s coming until you’re finally there. My advice, approach it with a “roll with the punches” kind of attitude.
            In Ireland, I knew it would rain, I knew there’d be a lot of walking, and I knew the school system would be different from what I’m used to in the U.S.  However, even though I was prepared for that, it still can take a toll on your mood if you don’t come with the right mindset. I’m usually a laid back person anyway, but I decided that when I came here, I was going to take whatever was thrown at me and enjoy it for what it is. I’ve accepted the fact that it rains literally everyday and that to get anywhere I need to expect at least a 15-minute walk. I’ve accepted that the school system in Galway is totally unorganized and I’ve learned to laugh at it and embrace these new experiences. Plans won’t always go as planned and spontaneity is key. Live each moment as much as you can because the time really does fly by, just like everyone is telling you that it will!
            As for the people in Ireland, they sure are friendly and usually welcoming. I have met a couple people who just plain dislike Americans, but the majority is grand (throwin’ a little Irish lingo in there).  People on the streets, in the shops, and at the school are all very helpful. It’s interesting, say you call a shop and ask a question, if they don’t know the answer they’ll take your phone number down, find out the answer, and call you back. Never really see that kind of thing in America.  The whole culture is just a lot more laid back and very trusting. Another thing I noticed about the Irish culture is how resourceful they are. They are very adamant about their recycling program and conserving water and electricity. Downfall to this is that hot showers are very hard to come by, but I’ve really learned a lot about getting by with less and protecting our environment.
            My number one suggestion when you go abroad is to get involved, engage in new experiences, and make the best of everything. I’ve joined the volleyball club at NUIG, am taking a service learning class in which I get to go to a local elementary school homework club once a week and help the children, and plan to volunteer with the disabled community. On top of this, I’ve still made time to see and do a great deal of things and get my schoolwork done too. Here’s a picture of me at the Cliffs of Moher – a must see if you’re planning to travel to Ireland! Take the time to venture out and see these kinds of sights! You won’t regret it!


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi. I am studying abroad next semester and am the type of person who likes to have everything very well planned out. But thanks to your blog I will be sure keep your "roll with the punches" advise in mind.
-Shelby K.

3:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was fortunate enough to spend a semester in Ireland when I was in the 6th grade. Though a lot has happened since then and you're into University, I have a pretty fair idea of what you're talking about. I especially remember walking to the small two room school in Tully-cross in the middle of a downpour, accosted by sheep on all sides. Do people give you the one-finger wave as the drive by? The Cliffs of Moher are insane. If given the chance you should check out Kylemore Abby - aside from the architecture, there are some really beautiful grounds and a good hike to the top of the mountain.

--Curtis D.

3:15 PM  
Anonymous Jessica T. said...

Curtis -

Yes, I saw Kylemoor Abbey! It was beautiful! I can't imagine living in a place like that. Waking up and seeing all the gorgeous mountains of Connemara while having breakfast would be amazing!

As for waving, Galway is a pretty busy city so there's lots of cars and lots of people walking. I imagine if you were walking through a smaller rural area though, you would probably still get the waves from drivers. Are you planning on going back to Ireland?

3:55 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for the specific differences you listed culturally. Although I'll be studying in France, it's nice to have a bit of an idea what I should expect. How long would you say your period of "culture shock" lasted?

-Sarah Consoer

1:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Jessica, it seems like you're having a blast! I am studying in Australia next semester and you gave some fantastic advice that I'm sure I will put to good use. It sounded like you adapted well into the culture, it's encouraging to read that!
-Amanda W.

3:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Jessica, Do you have any tips for picking out classes abroad? Did you do that before or after you arrived?

Lindsay Ryan

8:50 AM  

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