The beginning of this experience has been a whirlwind! Since packing and getting on a plane h, it’s been an adventure! It was go, go, go after we landed, which was a blessing and a curse. With a packed schedule the first few days in Dublin, there wasn’t a lot of time to think (or be homesick). However, with jetlag kicking in, it was exhausting trying to keep up and take in the novel culture. An important lesson comes from this though: because you’re in a new place and using your energy just to keep up with the daily grind, you’ll feel tired, a lot. But try as much as possible to not use that as an excuse!! You’re only here for a semester, so take full advantage! Grab some coffee, sneak in a catnap, but go out and explore these new places!!
I would say one of the hardest things to get acclimated to is meeting new people; it’s always hard to be the new kid and fit in with the locals. I think it’s one of the most valuable pieces to the puzzle though. It’s nice going through a program like CIEE because you know you’re going with other students from the U.S. who will be in the same situation as you. With that, don’t be afraid to venture off on your own either! It’s great to mingle and interact with the locals – a necessity actually – but go to the city on your own, take a walk around your neighborhood, get lost! I always feel closer to a place after I’ve been lost in its streets.
I quickly learned that when in Ireland you do need to budget!! But I luckily have amazing parents who told me to take advantage of the opportunities while I’m here. And that’s the best advice. Be smart about your spending, set up a budget, but don’t count coins. If there is something that you really want to do or somewhere you really want to go, then do it.
One of the biggest shocks was the education system. It’s nothing like the universities in the U.S. I love my classes (I’m taking all Communication courses), but it’s almost all independent studying with little to no structure. Reading is your responsibility, and there won’t be quizzes or even unit tests to make sure you’re up to speed. Almost all of my courses have either one or two major assignments or just one test at the end of the semester. Staying on top of your schoolwork is obviously very important, but it’s a bit tricky to get used to.
Some of the highlights of February were:
Baking bread, dancing, and singing during a day trip to Causey Farm
The cliff-walk from Bray to Greystones