When I was first getting on the plane to come here, I remembered knowing I would be a different person when I came back, but I had no idea who I would be. Thinking about that is surreal because now, not even halfway through, I know I am a different person.
I was terrified to leave home and all of my friends. Some people in my program came with friends from their home towns or schools but I was alone and I have never been good at dealing with that. Maybe it was the air, or just that everyone here is so nice, but for the first time I had no problem making friends with people. We all wanted to get along with each other and I think that might have helped. If you ask any of my housemates they’ll tell you, they didn’t even know I am shy.
I chose to do a trip to London before coming to Limerick in Ireland, and I am so glad that I did. I have never liked planes, so for me the trip here was anything but comfortable, but when I got out of the airport I was so excited. There had been one other girl who was on the same flight as me and she was very nice so I was already lucky, and then on the way to our hotel the two girls in our car were super nice too. We might have all been jet-lagged and feeling a little groggy but I think it was just so clear even right then how good things were going to be.
We walked around London in a small group that day, killing time until we could check into our hotel. Coming from Connecticut, the weather couldn’t have been nicer, it was a pleasant sunny day and we walked through the park that overlooks the Palace where Prince William and Princess Kate live. Unfortunately I never saw any royals, but it was cool to be that close to them. When we got back to our hotel we were finally allowed to check in and I met my roommate, Zoe. We hit it off right away too, she is so nice and wonderful and I am so incredibly glad I met her.
That night we tried to go a Pub but pub life isn’t really popping on Sunday nights even in London so that was a bit of a miss. But the next day made up for it. We got a bus tour and it was so much fun.
Those two days are probably the reason I adjusted so well in Ireland. I went with a group of twenty odd new friends and I was ready to face whatever was going to come next!
Getting to Ireland was a challenge. The fog was so bad in London that we got delayed several hours. We did make the most of it though: my friend Martin, had brought his ukulele with him and he jammed on it and we all sang. At the time I would have done anything just to have gotten to Limerick.
I was so excited to start my adventure that I hadn’t realized it had already begun. Looking back, I wouldn’t trade those hours because it was still a lot of fun, and now, it’s a really nice memory.
When we did finally get to school we were all tired and finding our houses was a little messy seeing as how it was pitch black. In fact I walked into the wrong one first! But I found my way and we had a meeting and went out to dinner. A house here holds 8 people. We each get our own room, there is a common room/kitchen, and two full bathrooms. Our other five roommates are all Irish students. At first I was a little disappointed with that too, but again, now I wouldn’t trade any of them for anything.
That night we all headed to the local (and overpriced) supermarket. That was where I met Ryan, who ended up becoming one of my best friends, and travel buddy here. A big group of us went and we talked and laughed, sharing food and stories and meeting the people like Ryan who hadn’t been in London with us.
The next two days were school orientations. I wanted to be excited for them, but I guess I forgot how long they are. It was made better with company which was my roommate Kayla and Ryan. That being said, the information was also super helpful because this campus is about ten times the size of my home campus, and well, I’m still getting lost. Luckily here in Ireland the people are nice enough to point you in the right direction. The second day they got us a bus into the city of Limerick, we walked around, did some much needed shopping and had a pretty great time.
A few days later all of my house had moved in, classes had started and I was really ready to go. The really nice thing about classes at Limerick is that we get two weeks to try out classes and if we don’t like them or find out they don’t work for us for some reason we can switch. That was really helpful for me because my schedule changed about three times. Now I am very happy with it, but I wouldn’t have been without those two weeks.
Things were a little calm that first month. I personally didn’t get to do a lot of traveling but we did explore Limerick a lot and got settled. We all kind of found our friends and places in smaller more reasonable groups and I am really enjoying myself!
Now I was lucky because I didn’t have a culture shock or any real homesickness. But my roommates did. The only real advice I can give for that is to hang in there and to try to go out as opposed to staying home and trying to call people at home. That was how we cheered them up and now we can’t imagine leaving we love it here so much! Who would have known so much could change in a month?