“Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.”

Hey all,

     I will continue my post about my spring break with Frankie in London and when my family visited Ireland later, but now comes the hard part…goodbyes.  The title of this post is a quote by Dr. Seuss and he says it perfectly.  Although I probably will cry (okay, I HAVE cried), I will cherish the memories I’ve made in Ireland and the amazing people I’ve met here.  Here goes:

Kyro, Ciara, Shona, Eimear, Vanessa, and everyone from the UL Drama Society: Thanks for welcoming me into the society and allowing me to be a part of Hercules.  I know I can come off as shy, but I had a blast and you guys are doing a great thing!

Shea, Carlee, Maria, Camille, Brad, Jessica, Dan, Sarah, Maddie, and anyone from Kilmurry I may have forgotten: Thanks for being great friends and always welcoming me to Kilmurry Village!  I had a great time going out with you guys and just having fun.  Keep in touch!

Ryan, Katie, Genevieve, and Carrie: I know we were a small group, but I had a grand time on the IFSA-Butler trips with everyone!  Katie and Genevieve, I will see you around campus.  Carrie and Ryan, definitely keep in touch!

Naomi, Audrey, Megan, Cassidy, Tereasa: I had a great time on various trips and going out to town with you guys!  And I thank you for willing to walk me back to Dromroe.  I know I didn’t always see you guys all the time but you always included me and I appreciate that.  Keep in touch!

Erin, Fiona, and Abby: I had a great time with you guys this semester!  From our village dinners to our mornings at the market, I have enjoyed spending time with you!  Thanks for inviting me to dinner in Dromroe for the first time; things were never the same after that, in a good way!  And Abby, thanks for the day trips we went on together; Dingle was especially unforgettable!  Keep in touch!

Michelle, Barbara, Maureen, Pat, and Families: Thanks for taking me in and welcoming me to this beautiful country!  I will never be able to thank you enough!

Rosemary: Thanks for taking my family in during their vacation and welcoming me as well when I first got here.  I will always remember my time in Ireland and all you’ve done to welcome me here!

Nell: Thanks for letting me stay at your home during weekends and providing me with meals, snacks, gifts, but most importantly, unforgettable memories.  You have been so great to me and I will be forever grateful!

Well, I keep telling myself I’ll come back at some point in my life.  And I will.  I may never see some of these people again, but they all came into my life for a reason and I will be eternally grateful.  This semester has been the best thing that has ever happened to me; I learned so much about myself and what I am capable of.  I am a changed person for the better.

Live. Laugh. Love.

-Danielle

 

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Amsterdam: City and Country

     For my spring break, I traveled with my wonderful aunt, Frankie, and we had a blast!  Frankie is a special person to me.  Even though she doesn’t live close to me back in the states, she has always made an effort to get to know me.  So, of course, spending spring break with her was amazing.  We stayed in my humble abode (aka my dorm room) for two nights and Frankie got to meet some of our Irish relatives.  Even though this was my second time going to Bodyke and seeing where my great-grandfather lived, it was still amazing to me.  I am in Ireland discovering my roots.  This is where I came from.  I am truly blessed.

     Soon, Frankie and I were off to Amsterdam.  It was one of the shortest flights I have ever been on!  Navigating the public transit in Amsterdam was a bit tricky at first, but we managed to figure it out.  We were pros by the end of our stay there!  One of the things you might hear about Amsterdam is that there are bikes…everywhere and you have to avoid being run over by them.  Frankie and I stepped off the tram and we were looking at a map when we heard a beep.  We scampered away as a motor bike whizzed right by us.  We were standing in the bike lane.  I guess we should’ve heeded all the advice we got a bit more.

     In the city, there was so much to do and obviously we couldn’t do it all, but I thought our trip turned out great!  We went to the Anne Frank House, took a canal ride, took pictures in front of the I Amsterdam letters, visited the Van Gogh Museum, and ate at different restaurants.  I also had the pleasure of meeting Frankie’s co-worker, Paul.

 

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     We also visited the countryside in Holland.  The country is known for its tulips and rightly so.  They were absolutely breathtaking!  We visited a bulb farm and then we went to Keukenhof, a place Frankie described as Disneyworld but with flowers.  I think Frankie really liked seeing the (real) windmill they had at the park as she has always wanted to see one!  Overall, it was refreshing to visit the countryside for a bit.

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   Of course, all good things must come to an end, but we had London to look forward to next!

 

-Danielle

 

I Want Adventure in the Great Wide Somewhere

From March 28th-30th, I went on another trip with my program, IFSA-Butler.  This time we traveled to Carlingford, a quaint and charming little town beside the bay.  We stayed there because of the Adventure Center.  I will admit that I was nervous about this weekend at first.  After a long bus ride, we went on a tour of the town, which was nice, but I think everyone was cold, tired, and hungry.  When we finally got dinner, however, let’s just say…it was less than expected.  To top it all off, the fire alarm malfunctioned that night.  I was beginning to worry that this weekend wasn’t going to be what I expected.

But I was wrong.  Saturday and Sunday turned out to be great craic!  On Saturday morning, I went zorbing, which is basically going down a hill in a huge plastic ball.

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We also did body zorbing, which is a smaller, personal plastic ball.  We basically banged into each other and played sumo…because why not?

There were also some team building activities, such as a maze we had to navigate in complete darkness and some team games.

We also did some archery.  I shot a 37 in one round, the highest in the group overall.  Move over, Katniss!  But in all seriousness, I guess the couple of times I have tried archery at the summer camp I work at has somehow paid off.

After lunch, we could choose between water activities, zorbing, or a high ropes course.  I didn’t want to do the water activities; it was too cold.  Since I had already done zorbing, I decided to participate in the high ropes course.  I climbed the Jacob’s Ladder with three other people.  The goal was to get as high as possible as a team, but the space between each ladder gets higher and higher.  I also did the individual challenge.  I was really nervous even though I was in a harness and being belayed by a professional, but I ended up completing the challenge.  Even though I enjoyed the morning activities more, I felt that the high ropes course was more rewarding for me since it was a challenge.

(This is not my photo.  It’s a picture of the high ropes course from the Carlingford Adventure web site.  The individual challenge is the one in the middle.)

 

Saturday night, I hung out with some girls studying abroad in Maynooth.  We went to some pubs and had a grand time!

Sunday morning we all participated in laser combat.  It’s basically like laser tag but outside in a Hunger Games esque arena.  It’s the best laser tag I’ve ever played!  We got to wear camo suits and the laser guns were really high-tech, in my opinion.

Overall, it was a great weekend!  It’s always nice to get away and see another part of Ireland for a change; I also caught up with the people in my program that I hadn’t talked to in a while.

 

Until Next Time,

Danielle

 

St. Paddy’s Day

I’m sorry it’s been so long!  Better late than never, I suppose.  This post is dedicated to St. Patrick’s Day!  Even though I already celebrate this holiday back at home, in Ireland, St. Paddy’s Day is a bank holiday, which means we get the day off.  So, my friends Erin, Fiona, Abby, and I went to Galway city for the special occasion.  The bus that took us there was a little late, so we didn’t get a good view of the parade, but just being able to experience St. Patrick’s Day in Ireland was wonderful in itself.  Here is a picture of flags at the parade:

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I think going to Dublin would’ve been fun but also really crowded and crazy, so I’m glad we decided to go to Galway.  It was still lively, but not too insane.  Here is a picture of me after the parade in all my green glory:

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Overall, it wasn’t my favorite day in Ireland, but it was definitely an experience!

 

-Danielle

Irish Family

     On Friday, March 7th, I met with Nell for a third time and this time I was able to stay the weekend at her farm.  Nell has been so good to me; she always gives me food and goodies to take back with me to campus and offers to pick me up and drop me off.  Anyways, on that Friday, we went to visit Maureen and Pat Malone at their shop and then we visited Barbara Malone-Buckley and her family.  Everyone was really nice and welcoming.  Afterwards, Nell took me to what remains of my great-grandfather’s house, the graveyard, and his old farm.

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The remains of the house.

 

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The farm.

     It was another moment of connecting to my past and I felt very lucky to be able to see everything that Nell showed me.  After all, family roots was one of the main reasons I chose to study abroad in Ireland!  I also met Rosemary and her mother the Sunday prior to staying at Nell’s house.  I’m going to the Rock of Cashel with Rosemary in April.  

     This Friday, I visited Nell again and we saw a local theater group put on a play called ‘Barn Dance.’  Although they talked a bit fast sometimes and used some lingo/jokes I didn’t always understand, the actors were very talented.  I felt like I was watching real people in Ireland or something, not a show!  

     Some observations I have come across while visiting relatives (this is supposed to be somewhat humorous):

1. There is never a time when tea/coffee is not acceptable 

2. Lunch seems to be the biggest meal of the day

3. Everyone knows each other and stops to talk to one another, i.e. everyone knows everybody’s business (in a good way I suppose!)

4. Mass is short.  If it was an hour, no one would go

5. Local Funerals/Wakes/Deaths are attended by many and are very important.  Everyone knows who died and when the funeral is.  Sometimes jokes are made about who goes to the most funerals.  (Disclaimer: These observations really only apply to the elderly; tragic deaths or deaths of young people are a different story.  I also learned some of this from my Irish Folklore class.)

6. Driving in the city is different than driving on country roads…where there are fewer cars and more of a reason to drive fast

7. The Irish language is still relevant

8. Sports like rugby and curling are a BIG deal

9. Ireland is definitely different than the U.S….

10. But similar too!

Many thanks to my Irish relatives for their kindness and hospitality!  I’m very lucky!!!

-Danielle 

 

Let There be Peace on Earth, and Let it Begin with Me

     From February 20th-23rd (I know, I know it’s been a while since I last posted), my program went on a trip to Northern Ireland.  We left on Thursday (the 20th) and arrived in Belfast that evening to a lovely dinner.  At the place where we had dinner, karaoke was on downstairs starting at 9pm.  My friend Carrie and I decided to go and check it out.  Long story short, we both ended up singing a song and got free shots!  It was a grand night!

     On Friday, we went to the Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge, which is, as the title suggests, a rope bridge that you can go across.  The bridge goes across a 30-meter deep and 20-meter wide chasm.  Salmon fishermen originally built the bridge.  I was a bit scared to go across at first, but it was worth it; it wasn’t as frightening as I had originally thought.     

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Next, we went to Dunluce Castle.  It was different than Blarney Castle because it was more ruinous, but it was just as spectacular!  Apparently some Game of Thrones filming was done at Dunluce Castle.

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Finally, we arrived at the famous Giant’s Causeway.  It was breathtaking!  It was amazing to see how the sea had shaped the rock formations there.  Even though it was really windy, the view from on top of some of the rocks was indescribable.

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     On Saturday, we went on black taxi tours of Belfast.  The taxi drivers took us around Belfast, specifically to the Falls and the Shankill political murals.  The tour was informative and as unbiased as possible.  It saddened me to see the separation that Catholics and Protestants still felt was necessary; some Catholic houses had protective fences and walls at the back to prevent rocks from ruining their homes.  We also went to a memorial for people who died during “The Troubles.”  The tour was a bit somber, but I’ll admit, I shed a few tears.  I felt like this was my past. my heritage, and it was hard to see the scars so many people still carried.  I had my camera the entire tour, but I only took one picture.  I felt like the murals and memorials I saw were almost sacred in a way and I didn’t feel right taking photos.  I did sign the peace wall, however:

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Afterwards, we had free time, so Carrie and I went to the Ulster Museum.  It was free and pretty interesting for having no admission fee.  The museum had three sections: history, nature, and art.  I explored the history and art section the most.  

     We left Belfast on Sunday, which was pretty much just a traveling day.  My next trip with IFSA-Butler is at the end of March and it is at the Carlingford Adventure Center.

-Danielle 

 

Long Time, No See (Part Two)

Here is the continuation of my last post!

Feb. 4th – Feb. 7th: On campus, I have joined two societies, the International Society and the Drama Society.  There was a meeting on Tuesday for the International Society in which we could sign up for clubs within the society and hear about upcoming trips and events.  I signed up for the music club.  I’ll tell you more when I hear more about it!  I went to the first Drama Society meeting on Wednesday night.  We basically did improv, but it felt good to be doing that kind of stuff again since I haven’t really done theater since high school.  Apparently, they’re going to be putting on two productions this semester, Disney’s Hercules and Anchorman.  I’m hoping to get involved in Hercules if I can!  I also found out Fiona joined the Drama Society too and the Irish members were all really cool people.  On Thursday, I went to a medieval banquet at Bunratty Castle with my program, IFSA-Butler.  It was quite entertaining, even though it was a little silly.  Everyone had a good time and it was nice to catch up with some of the others in my program that I hadn’t seen much since classes started.

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On Friday, I went to Stables again.  It was International Country Colors night, so I wore a blue dress I got at Penney’s (which is like Forever21) and a scarf that had red and white in it.  I didn’t stay too long since i had to get up early for the Cork trip the next day!

Saturday, Feb. 8: We went to Blarney Castle first and then the city of Cork.  Luckily, the weather held up while we were at the castle.  It was amazing!  The views were great from on top of the castle, and, yes, I kissed the Blarney Stone.

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The top picture is a silly shot of my friend Audrey and me outside of the castle.

This past week, I went to Dolan’s again with Abby, Fiona, and Erin and all four of us had dinner in Dromroe too another night.  There was also a hurricane on Wednesday!  Crazy!  On Friday, I met Nell.  I couldn’t stay the weekend because her power went out, but we had lunch in Scholar’s on campus instead.  I still can’t believe I met an Irish relative!  She was really funny, I said I was going to get a soup and sandwich to which Nell replied, that’ll be gone in a minute!  I was persuaded to get something more ‘hearty,’ so I got fish and chips.  Overall, Nell seems like a wonderful woman and I can’t wait to spend the weekend and meet the rest of my Irish family!

As for this weekend, I didn’t do too much because I’m sick.  I felt a bit weird about not exploring Ireland for a whole weekend, but I need to get better for this upcoming weekend because my program is going on a trip to Northern Ireland.  I guess it all worked out for the best, then!  Well, I will (hopefully) post again soon!

Until then,

Danielle

Long Time, No See

It has been a while since I’ve posted, and I apologize for that!  But now is the perfect time for me to post because I’m currently recovering from a bad cold/cough.  Here goes:

Friday (Jan. 30th): Although most Irish students go home for the weekend on Fridays, there is always the TGIF International night at Stables.  I usually have a good time at Stables, but I’ve noticed they seem to play the same songs in almost the same order, so it can get a little monotonous.  It’s good craic, though! 

Saturday (Feb. 1st): So the Cork trip I talked about in my last post got postponed due to the weather.  It was really rainy and windy in the morning, although it did clear up later on.  I ended up going into the city centre with three other people, Carlee, Shea, and Maria.  Just getting to the bus stop was a struggle, but once we got into the city and had some tea/coffee and scones, it was worth it!  We went to a place called the Milk Market, which is an outdoor, well, market that acts as a venue for various vendors to sell their goods.  It’s common to see cheese, breads, fruits, vegetables, meats, and baked goods at each stand; occasionally there are other goods, like fashion accessories and books.  it’s a neat place!

Sunday (Feb. 2nd): On this day, I went on another bus tour.  This time we toured the Connemara area, the Killary Fjord, Kylemore Abbey, and the city of Galway.  I didn’t really know anyone going on this tour, so I was a bit nervous, but I ended up meeting a student named Abby.  As it turns out, she lives in Dromroe VIllage (on-campus) too!  I still hang out with my friends I met before, but it was nice to meet Abby and her friends (who also live in Dromroe) because they are closer to me on campus.  The students who live at another on-campus village have ‘family dinners’ which sounded really nice, but I didn’t really know how I could do that.  It’s nice to know I have the chance to do that now!  Again, I got some great pictures:

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Monday (Feb. 3rd): I don’t remember when I finalized my course schedule, but I figured it out during this week.  Here is my final schedule for my time at UL:

Irish Folklore- Really interesting!  So far we have talked about the calendar custom, St. Brigid’s Day (it was cool learning more about the saint that I picked for my Confirmation name), and the Irish Folklore Commission.

Ireland: Revolution and Independence- This is a history course.  Might as well be informed about the history of Ireland, especially with this important topic.

Gender: Sociological Perspectives- I really like this class.  I need to take it for my Sociology minor.  It’s interesting to focus on both femininity AND masculinity and to talk about how we are all affected by the social construction of gender.

Cultural Theory and Criticism- I need this for my English major.  It’s a bit dry, but it’s not too bad so far!

Traditional Irish Music and Dance- I joined this class late, but now I’m officially registered.  I chose the song tutorial (of course) but we had the option to choose these other tutorials: tn whistle, bodhran drum, and dance.

I also went to a pub called Dolan’s with Abby and her friends, Fiona and Erin.  It was really fun!  There was traditional Irish music being played when we were there.  The woman also sang a cover of “House of the Rising Sun” that was different but really good.

Ok, don’t want to make this post too long!  I will continue in another post!

 

-Danielle

Time Flies By

Wow, sorry it has been so long!  So much has happened and it’s all passing by very quickly!

I’m going to steal a formatting idea from my friend Hannah, who is also keeping a blog while studying abroad. 🙂  Basically, I’m going to recap my week day by day.

Sunday: If you have been keeping up with my blog, you know that I went to the Cliffs of Moher on Sunday.  Sort of.  We didn’t actually get to go on the cliffs because they were closed due to the windy weather, but what I didn’t realize is that the trip was a bus tour.  Hence, I got to see other places nearby and we got out at specific locations to take pictures.  First, we stopped at Ennis near a rest stop.  There was water nearby and it was beautiful, but that was just the beginning!  We also went to Poulnabrone Dolmen, Ballyvaughan Port, Doolin Pier, and Lahinch Beach.  It was absolutely freezing, but I got some awesome pictures!

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As you can see, I'm all bundled up!

As you can see, I’m all bundled up!

Monday: For the first two weeks, international students basically go to any classes (called modules) and don’t have to register until the Friday of week 2.  It’s a bit strange, as there are certain classes I need to take, but I also like the system now, especially since I went to two classes that just didn’t do it for me.  I rearranged my schedule (called a timetable) at LEAST five times.  I think I’ve finally got it figured out; I just need to attend one more module to try it out and then figure out my tutorials, which are like seminars.  I’m really trying for no classes on Friday.  If I get all the tutorials I want, this may come true!

Tuesday: Monday and Tuesday kind of blended together, so things I said above apply here and things I say now apply above.  Getting around the campus is definitely different than at PC.  UL is much larger and although I’ve made it to every module on time, I’m sure I found my classrooms in really round-about ways.  I think I’m sort of getting the hang of it now, though!  I also tried my hand at laundry on Tuesday.  It’s 6 euros to do laundry, which is a bit expensive, but if I plan out everything right, I hopefully won’t have to do it every week.  

You can see how little I brought with me!

You can see how little I brought with me!

Wednesday: Although I’ve been having a great time abroad so far, I can’t help but feel like it’s freshman year all over again.  I’ve met many people, but I didn’t feel like I was really getting to know anyone.  I joined a group on FB comprised of international students and someone posted about karaoke night in Stables.  I was in the library just printing some stuff when I decided to be proactive and join the group at the bar.  Everyone is really nice and I’m glad I took initiative and went on my own to meet them there.  I even ended up singing “I Want It That Way” by the Backstreet Boys with two other girls that night!  It was more fun and silly than serious, but we all decided we are going to practice and blow everyone away next time they have karaoke night!

Thursday: Today I went to a class I need to take for PC.  It seemed a bit hard, but I think it will be my only truly difficult class.  Plus, the lecturer is really funny and approachable.  Otherwise, not much has been going on (except me writing this blog post).  This weekend, I’m going on two trips!  On Saturday, I’m going with the International Society to Blarney Castle and on Sunday, I’m going on a trip to Galway sponsored by the Student’s Union to see a castle and some gardens.  Come Monday, I’ll probably be exhausted, but it will be worth it!

-Danielle

Arrival

After my few days at Dublin, my group and I were provided transport to the University of Limerick.  I still felt tired and slept most of the ride.  When we arrived, we checked into the village where we are staying at the reception building.  Everyone was in the same house except for me and out of those four, three were in the same apartment!  I definitely wanted to branch out and meet new people, but I began to feel nervous about being on my own.

A lot happened after everyone brought their suitcases in…

Let’s just say there was a lot of moving around for various reasons; I ended up moving as well.  The village manager, Tom, is very helpful and accommodating and made me feel better about the housing situation.  I moved from being with all Irish students to being with two international and three Irish.  I think this was a better choice for me because there are two others in my apartment going through the same thing as me.  I live with Ryan, the guy from my program, and a girl from New Hampshire named Courtney.  We haven’t met the Irish students yet because they move in Sunday.  The apartment is nice because I live with these people, but I get my own room and bathroom.

Everything has happened so fast that the days are already blurring together, but I have met some other international students so far.  I’ve been hanging out with mostly students from the US since there are a lot of us, but I also met four people from France, a girl from Wales, a girl from Sweden, and a guy from India!  The place to be on campus is the Stables Club, which is the on-campus bar.  It’s kind of like McPhail’s at PC but a bit livelier and everyone can buy drinks there (after all, the drinking age is technically 18+ here).  I’ve been introduced to Bulmer’s, which is pretty good.  I like it because it doesn’t have that strong beer taste; it’s more of a cider.  Every Friday night at Stables is TGIF sponsored by the international society (which I am now a member of).  Apparently, many of the Irish students go home for the weekend, so it’s nice knowing that there is craic to be found on campus!  The first TGIF was really fun; I’m a little new to the party scene, but I had a good time.  

Today was a bit slower.  I barely made the free bus provided for students to go to the city centre today; I’m not jet-lagged anymore (I think) but I’m still really tired sometimes.  Anyways, I got some shopping done and just took it easy today because I’m going on the trip to the cliffs of Moher tomorrow!  I felt a little weird just relaxing, as if I need to explore every second, but I ended up falling asleep, so maybe I needed some down time.  Anyways, I’ve attached a picture to this post explaining what study abroad students typically go through.  I went through the honeymoon phase pretty fast, but hopefully I am beginning to adjust now!

Classes start Monday and the system for international students is a bit odd, but I will explain that in another post. 🙂

Cheers,

Danielle

 

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