Welcome to Ireland

by: Hannah Arnold, Limerick Intern

Stepping out of the airport was probably one of the most liberating feelings I have ever had. The air was the cleanest and crispest I've ever breathed, and the scenery was the greenest I've ever seen. I enjoy traveling and flying, but after a long journey from home, it was great to finally be out of the cramped space of an airplane. I caught some sleep during the 6 hour flight over, but, with the time change and the plane landing at 8:30am (GMT), I had been up and traveling for almost 24 hours, and I had barely gotten any sleep the night before my flight out. Even with this lack of sleep, however, I managed to get a full day out of my first day in Ireland - the adrenaline and the knot of anxiety I was feeling in my stomach all day could take much of the blame for that one. The school had a bus to take us to campus from the airport, and I was grateful to meet one of my (now) good friends on campus on this ride. It’s always nerve wracking beginning conversations with new people no matter where you go, but they can often have a lasting impact. During that bus ride, I also began to realize just how big University of Limerick is compared to Robert Morris University. I come from a private university with just over 4,300 students and I was arriving at a school with about 18,000 students. This is definitely going to be a semester filled with new experiences (good and bad) that I’m sure I would not have gotten a chance to have back in the US. When we arrived at the accommodation village that I would be living in, I discovered that I was the only one from the bus in my house - not surprising considering there are over 70 houses just in this village. And with that, the safety net and comfort zone was gone - I was completely alone, not even able to contact home or anyone else for that matter due to the lack of internet and cellular access I was confronted with. After fumbling with my room key for quite some time, I managed to open the door to my apartment. I set down my luggage and followed the noise of a TV into the common room where I met two of my new roommates. I said hello and introduced myself, and I then went off to find my room. I will admit I was not very impressed by my room, living space, or bathrooms at first. Everything seemed to look a bit rough and dead. The apartment consisted of six single rooms, three up and three down, a bathroom on both floors, and a kitchen/common room on the ground floor. With nothing to occupy me except the thought of staying in my new and plain-looking room to unpack, I decided to inhale some more of the fresh air, and take a walk around campus with my friend from the bus to familiarize myself with the place. When I went to meet up with her, she brought along one of her roommates and now the three of us are great friends. Before coming here, making friends was one of the things I was nervous about, but everything has worked itself out so far and I have found myself with a great niche of friends. The three of us decided to walk to the grocery store down the road, Aldi. It was a much longer walk than anticipated, but it was a good way to expose ourselves to our surroundings, and to get food. Aldi was a very small grocery store, and I’ve been to one in the States, but here, I didn't recognize a single brand or label in the entire store, so I ended up picking up the generic essentials - bread, juice, bananas, apples, yogurt, pasta, butter, and of course I couldn't say no to some hard cider, considering I'm "legal" now. Much to my surprise, the groceries only came to about 11 euros, which is only about $15 - crazy!It was a heavy walk back to the Village, and I was relived to be off of my feet for a bit, but we weren’t down for long. In an effort to be more social and to escape boredom setting in, we all headed out to the movie night put on by the International Society shortly thereafter. It was an Irish light comedy, "Life's a Breeze", and so we ended up being exposed to some of the Irish culture as well. It was a cute movie, and when we headed back to the village I laid down on my bed, feebly attempting to make contact with those from home. It was then that the 36 hour day hit me like a ton of bricks, and after almost passing out 3 or 4 times, I decided it would probably be a good idea to have something to eat before I completely fell asleep, even if my stomach still hadn't calmed down quite yet. After a healthy snack of yogurt and a banana and a little contact with home via Facebook, it was time for me to hit the hay, on the world's flattest pillow, listening to the sound of thumping music in the distance. 


Well, here I am: home for the next 4 months.


Mallory Dirks, Simpson College

Happy Backpackers

I chose to do this rather than book my own trip in Rome - I wanted to experience one organized/sight-seeing trip rather than a relaxing vacation like many of my others had been. Two friends and I signed up for WSA Rome and don't regret a thing. We met wonderful people, were led by an awesome tour guide Rhianne, and got to see everything I wanted to see in Rome. Plus eat all the best food. There is an optional dinner on the last night that we didn't do right away, but we ended up going to it, and it was SO worth the 20 euro. I made memories and friends, and got to see a beautiful, historic city thanks to WSA!!

Mallory Dirks, Simpson College ~ University of Roehampton, London, Fall 2015

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