Greetings from Ireland! I am now fully settled in the “Emerald Isle” and am eager to share what life here is like! While I desperately miss Stag Country and my morning Dunkin’ runs, this has been a life-changing experience. Here is a little update on life in Galway, advice for studying abroad and how I tackled those pesky first-week anxieties.
For many, junior year is a popular time to consider studying abroad. Ever since I began my college search, I knew this was something that I was interested in. As a psychology major, The National University of Ireland in Galway presented itself as the perfect place for me to continue working on my degree. Plus, it is a truly beautiful city with a rich history! Before my flight to Galway, I had never been out of the country. Needless to say, I was a wreck the month leading up to my departure. I experienced all of those anxious clichés: “I can’t do this,” “this was a bad idea!”
I can advocate for my anxiety-filled friends when I say that this was probably one of the hardest things I have ever done. Those last goodbyes stung. Badly. Oh also, I lost my whole wallet 24 hours before my flight! You know with my ID, credit card, beloved Stag Card … nothing too important!
As anticipated, the first week in Ireland was full of culture shocks and homesickness. My first few hours were spent reluctantly drinking hot, unflavored coffee, getting caught in the rain and cringing at the cars on the wrong side of the road (not sure I will ever get over that one).
My living arrangement this semester is a flat with three other roommates. We each have our own bedroom and bathroom as well as a shared common space with a full kitchen, dining table, couch and TV area. A serious upgrade from my four-person Faber room! Our flat looks out over the Corrib River that runs parallel to the university campus—it is the perfect spot for rainbow gazing.
One of my roommates is a fellow Stag (shoutout Casey, xoxo), and our other roommates, Olivia and Lenny, are from Germany and Belgium, respectively. It has been a treat getting to know them, their home countries and what life and school is like for them.
My favorite moments with them have been anytime we share traditions from back home, and trying their German and Belgian snacks! We also all share a love for sci-fi movies which is a huge win. Above all, the rumors rang true about the kindness and selflessness of the Irish people. The amount of university faculty and even strangers who offered friendly advice, warm wishes and encouraging support throughout my first few days was so comforting.
Irish slang lesson!
“What’s the craic?” or “That’s some good craic!”
- In Ireland, referring to something as “craic” means that you are regarding said thing as a good/fun time, a good vibe if you will.
“Are you alright?” (as a greeting)
- Apparently, in Ireland, (and most of Europe) this misleading “hello” is the equivalent of asking someone “How can I help you?”
- This one I love. It is basically a “Mazeltov!” equivalent!
Living in Ireland is rewarding because traveling to neighboring countries is easily accessible. This was something that I looked forward to the most when preparing to study abroad. Flights to other areas of Europe like Spain, Switzerland and Germany are all inexpensive, and once you’re there, getting to neighboring cities is a piece of cake. With my Galway gals, we have planned out numerous trips to a variety of different countries in Europe! So far, we have visited London, Amsterdam and Madrid, as well as many areas around Ireland.
I do not take for granted how lucky I am to have this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. There are many factors that went into ensuring that this could happen. Lots of strategic scheduling and course planning as well as choosing the right international university was the biggest obstacle. Additionally, studying abroad can be very costly, especially if you choose to travel. For this reason, I spent the entirety of my summer in an ugly apron at a local restaurant (not cute).
Furthermore, this experience would not be possible without Fairfield, specifically the Global Fairfield office. They helped set me up with accommodations, flight deals, financial advice and travel tips. If you are considering studying abroad for a semester, summer session or the year, Fairfield makes it very attainable! Lastly, this truly wouldn’t be possible without my family. They have had my back and held my hand throughout this whole journey, and I miss them very much.
I would highly encourage everyone to consider studying abroad if possible! I have only been here a little over a month and I have already made so many memories and amazing friends while learning so much about our world. It is an incredibly rewarding experience that will change my life forever. I would be remiss if I didn’t tell you how anxious, scared and sad I was to relocate to a foreign country for four months. But, I would not change it for the world (maybe I would bring my dog next time … ). Hope this letter makes it back to Stag Country with love! Save me a Fork in the Road quesadilla!
Erin Go Bragh!