Greetings from IRELAND!!! After a long journey, I finally made it! This week has been the most fast pace, exciting, and shocking week of my life. If I have realized anything, it is that a "going on vacation" mindset produces a much different experience than an "I'm moving here for 5 months" mindset! Overall, both are fun and exciting and bring challenges to the immediate future.
My orientation took place right in the heart of Dublin. Upon exiting the airport, I was stunned by the new environment, people, places, signs, and scenery that I would call home for the next 5 months. The thought of being here for so long has lingered in my mind throughout this past first week. Thankfully, everyday gets better and better. The most fun about my transition was that my dad was with me to celebrate the New Year and the new semester! We had the best time touring the city of Dublin, including St. Patrick's Cathedral, the Guinness Factory and Temple Bar District. The night life especially is what really stood out to me in Dublin. Pubs are in full swing everywhere it seems no matter what time of the week.
What makes a pub special is the people inside of it. "Pub" comes from the term "Public House" which represents a place where families meet to gather and enjoy each other's company. This attitude of coming together and sharing stories and songs surely exists throughout Ireland's finest and smallest pubs in Dublin, and also (what I am currently discovering) throughout Galway. The people in Ireland are the most kind, welcoming, and interested people I have ever conversed with. The average stranger in Ireland may care a lot more about your day and your lifestyle than your second cousin does in America. This really reflects the values of the Irish people. The bonus is that the stories they have to share are not only honest, they are hysterical! Welcoming arms and times in the pub with my dad were the highlight of my orientation experience as a total stranger to the Irish culture. I must say, those Irish can sure drink!
One final thing I want to say to everyone is that THE FOOD IS GREAT IN IRELAND! For months after months I was told by everyone that the food was going to be terrible. I have not had a bad meal yet! The lamb stew, fish, "chips" (French fries), pasta, and the chicken I have had have all been great. Plus, there is a "Dunnes" department/grocery store across the street from my apartment which is a major center where I can buy most things from home to cook with. If the food isn't new and different, then what's the craic? (What's the fun?) I suppose a few pints will make any food taste good as well.
This past weekend about 25 students from the American program and I took the Galway city bus trip and toured the cliffs of Moher and Barren along the southern west coast. "Breath taking" and "phenomenal" are understatements to describe how much fun I had and how beautiful they are. Our tour guide, Gary, took us through the history of Ireland all day. It's hard to believe that in some of these small towns, families still WILLINGLY choose to live without electricity! All of the locals say that the bread made over a fire still has the best flavor and texture, compared to local bakeries that use machines. The area we toured was also very rural compared to the city of Galway, so the locals were more authentic and difficult to understand. This made lunch very fun; I had the best homemade seafood chowder I have ever had in my life! (Loaded with shrimp, mussels, and chunks of salmon)!
Galway City, Eyre Square Shopping!
Cliffs of Moher, taken from my camera!
New friends and roommates!
New friends and roommates!
at home, the first week of school is always overwhelming and introduces many things that are new. I am the most confident in my ability to adapt to a new semester schedule though because this isn't my first time around the block! I look forward to writing about what Irish classes are like and what experiences Galway will bring me this week. There is so much to see, I am off to a walking tour of Galway now! Slancha! Cheers!