My goodness, the past two months have been a roller-coaster of experiences, emotions, trials and tribulations, tears, and growth.
Before I went abroad, I talked to several people who said that studying abroad teaches you things about yourself that there’s little opportunity for otherwise. I didn’t think it would be that much different than the trials and tribulations I went through when I first got to college or started high school for the first time. But, by golly, I was wrong.
When I landed in Dublin on January 5th, I felt like a tiny minnow in a vast ocean. Like a freshman starting college far away from home, where the location and people are unfamiliar. Except it wasn’t just the people and the place that was unfamiliar, it was everything.
I quickly found that I wasn’t the only one in this position, though, for everyone else in the study abroad program was the exact same way. We all had something in common – we were in an unfamiliar place, surrounded by unfamiliar people.
I made several friends that first orientation weekend in Dublin, and I was sad to leave when it came time to pack up and move to Cork. Three of us from the overarching program were going to Cork. We barely knew each other, but we all became thick as thieves the first week after moving in.
When we moved into our apartment in the designated student accommodations, there was only one other student there. But three French ERASMUS students and one more full-time UCC student moved in throughout that first week.
Our accommodation is a short walk from the city center, next to the beautiful river that runs through Cork. That first week of settling in before classes started was spent exploring everywhere we could. I was so in awe of the city. With its fresh air, the bustling streets, and the variety of people from all over.
UCC orientation ensued a few days after we arrived from Dublin. They split all the international students into two groups, and I knew no one from mine. After that first orientation session, I decided to find the music building, for I knew that was where I’d be spending most of my time. From that moment on, Google maps have been my best friend. The music building is about a 20-minute walk from the main UCC campus. Through a park, across a river on a footbridge, and up into a quiet neighborhood. That walk is still one of my favorites.
Once classes started and we all found schedules that worked for us, we (my flatmates and I) began looking at different things we wanted to explore in Ireland. And after a few weeks, we visited Blarney Castle – where I kissed the Blarney stone! It was so beautiful. I didn’t realize it before visiting, but the castle is situated on a vast array of grounds. There are so many gardens and buildings to visit. We spent a whole afternoon there and still didn’t get the chance to see everything! I have loved ones coming to visit me in the next week, and I’m so excited to go back while everything is in bloom for SPRING!!
I thought Ireland would be grey and rainy all the time, but I’d have to say, so far, it’s been partly cloudy, around 50 degrees, and a bit breezy more often than not.
This is not even close to everything I’ve done here so far. But I want to break it up into a few blog posts so that it’s not too overwhelming to read all at once! So, stay tuned!