Arriving in a New Place Can Be Scary

Tags: Study Abroad,WSA Europe,Ireland,2015

Arriving in a new place can be scary. But honestly, it was way easier than I expected.

I flew from Newark to Shannon Airport on a direct flight. My study abroad advisor scared me about immigration and I had an entire folder of perfectly organized information to get me into the country. All I was asked for was my original acceptance letter to my Irish University (NUI Galway) and how long I was staying. I was given a stamp in my passport that instructed me to contact my local garda (police) within one month (which my university set up for me).

I then was happy to find that neither piece of my checked luggage had been lost, yay! I know, I know, you’re only supposed to bring one, but bringing a second piece was cheaper than bringing an overweight piece, and there are still a few things I wish I had brought with me. My next task was to figure out how to get myself to Galway. It was 6:30 in the morning and the airport was empty and all the information stands were closed. Bus Eireann however has an incredibly convenient electronic ticket kiosk that allows you to purchase your bus ticket (there’s a student rate. Take it and show the bus driver (if he asks) your current student ID if you have not received one from your Study Abroad University).

Arriving in Galway itself was a bit more confusing. I had fallen asleep on the bus and was incredibly tired and disoriented getting off of it. It took me a minute but I got a cab to my student residence (I had way too much luggage and was way too out of it to take a public bus at this point). The cab was surprisingly cheap and definitely worth it.

I was super worried about plugging my appliances in. I plugged in my phone tentatively and it had no issues. I was more worried about plugging in my computer and avoided doing it until it was necessary. It was fine and I wish I had more faith in my adapter, but I’ve heard way to many horror stories. Honestly, don’t plug in any heat products (blow dryer, straightener, etc.) and you’ll be fine.

Grocery shopping is very different here. They use the metric system and generally just have different products. It’s hard to convert 250g of cheese to ounces and then convert the euro to dollars and see if you’re getting a decent deal. I for the most part have decided to compare the prices for store-brand 250g of shredded cheddar to other brands to see if I am paying a reasonable price. My main concern if making sure 250g is enough for my recipe. As you go along you’ll learn some of the basics that will make shopping a lot easier (454g in a pound, 1 kilo is about 2 pounds, 250g is 8 oz).

The first time I explored Galway City, I did it by myself. I took a bus into town (for those of you who don’t know, google maps will tell you exactly what bus to take, where to get on and where to get off) and walked around the Shop Street area, not really having a clue where I was going. It’s a pretty safe area to explore, don’t worry about getting lost. It’s a small city and its poorly signed, you won’t believe how long it took me to find the Spanish Arch (I have since found most things in Ireland are poorly signed) because one side points towards the bridge and the sign at the end of the bridge points back to where you came from. But I definitely recommend exploring your new city on your own at some point. That way it can be done at your own pace and you can seek out the types of places you’re looking for.

Until next time,



Lauren Wallender, Elon University

Happy Backpackers

I definitely have WSA to thank for my exceptional experience in Amsterdam. One would think 4 days isn't enough to tour a city but WSA facilitated an optimum weekend full of sightseeing and fun. Amsterdam may have a notorious reputation for its lax drug and sex culture but there’s so much more to the city. Luckily, our tour guide, Arthur, native to the Netherlands, steered us away from the tourist traps and showed us around his beloved city, highlighting all of its gems. I'd definitely like to try other WSA trips in the future. It's hassle free traveling with an awesome itinerary - nice that the tour guides are flexible with the schedule and willing to cater the itinerary to the group's interest! Highly recommend WSA to any student with only a weekend to see a city.

Lauren Wallender, Elon University ~ Fall 2014

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